HBRC at work

BayBuzz has long advocated for opening council ‘workshops’ where much of the most critical (non) decision-making occurs. Thankfully, the NZ Ombudsman last year pressed councils to move in this direction.

In response to BayBuzz, here’s what our councils promised back in December.

And now, our elected representatives have begun to comply, mostly.

So far top transparency honours would have to go to the CHB and Regional Councils. Both have publicised their workshops in recent months and provided the public with relevant background materials on the matters under discussion.

Are the matters important?

CHBDC, for example, held four workshops in February/March on development on its latest 3 Year Plan. The background materials are exemplary in their clarity and candor about the tough issues councillors were grappling with.

At HBRC, workshops have so far been held on planning for flood resilience, coastal protection strategy and funding, and on the ‘Future Development Strategy’ for the Napier-Hastings urban area. All matters of some significance, wouldn’t you agree?

These sessions are where most policy, programme, oversight and spending schemes are hatched … of course with no ‘decisions’ formally made.

A bit slower out of the starting gate, NCC’s website shows no workshops through April, with three now popping up in May – on Emerson Street Development, Local Advisory  Committee FENZ, and representation review.

And yet to join the party are the Hastings and Wairoa District Councils.

HDC indeed held unannounced workshops earlier this year — seven in March and five in April, telling BayBuzz their new workshop policy would not come into effect until May … how convenient.

In fact HDC disclosed to BayBuzz five workshops on the books for May, all closed and none yet listed on the council website — Building Unit review, litigation matter, property management update, Havelock North streams management, and council land development. Two of these in particular — the reviews of how HDC manages its building consents and its urban streams — on their face would seem to deal with precisely the kind of accountability and performance issues that have aroused public concern and that the public deserves to see thrashed out. This is exactly what the Ombudsman had in mind.

Wairoa District Council is yet to read the memo.


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