More effective governance strategies sought

Sophie Barker
Sophie Barker
Tweaks could be made to the Dunedin City Council’s governance oversight, as efforts to produce more effective arrangements continue.

The proposed moves appear to be aimed at generating a more consistent approach for engaging with sectors of the community and putting strategies into effect.

They will be considered at the council’s strategy, planning and engagement committee next week.

Various structures had been used in the past to provide oversight for strategies supporting activities such as arts and culture, economic development and environmental wellbeing.

"The proposed governance approach aims to provide clarity on roles, responsibilities and reporting expectations, and support better decision-making," it was stated in the committee agenda.

It involves a three-step plan to determine what governance oversight is needed in each case.

If it is considered an advisory panel is needed, there might then be a public process calling for expressions of interest.

Committee chairwoman Sophie Barker said governance arrangements for strategies were vital to ensure they were implemented, monitored and supported.

"We’ve seen challenges in the past with strategies and plans slipping through the cracks due to lack of oversight," she said.

The council needed to deliver on promises it had made to the community and show it was doing this in an open and transparent way, she said.

"The arrangements provide a framework for oversight of all of the strategies and plans and reporting lines back to council."

Future advisory panels affected by the proposed changes would include those for the council’s zero-carbon plan, heritage action plan, a destination management plan and live music action plan.

The changes, if approved, would follow others made at the council more broadly.

Adjustments were made to the chief executive appraisal committee to improve upon "a more ad hoc process" run under previous councils, Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said this month.

There had been a push to tighten up on procedure and realign the calendar.

Cr Barker is deputy chairwoman of that committee and she had called for changes to promote better accountability and transparency.

In general, the council’s committee structure has looked unsettled in parts of the term amid challenges dealing with the next long-term plan and after changes brought in under Mr Radich.

Cr Steve Walker last month called the structure "ridiculously overburdened" and he noted it had seemed to result in some meetings having thin agendas to work through.