The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has taken a major step — at least potentially — in the direction of providing more and better strategic leadership for Hawke’s Bay.

HBRC has embraced a comprehensive set of strategic goals and objectives developed over the past several months, together with a three-year Council workplan designed to advance them. After a final wordsmithing exercise is completed shortly, an “official” document will be released to engage the public.

The benefits of this exercise are several, as BayBuzz sees it.

For Regional Councillors, these goals and objectives will give focus to how their attention and energies are allocated for the remainder of their term, and help prompt Councillors to lift their heads above the weeds of day-to-day regional governance.

For the territorial Councils, the approach will mean that they can expect more rational guidance — or at least better informed frameworks — for addressing issues that should really be resolved in a regional context. Of course, it will take some time before the Regional Council is able to formulate and articulate such guidance — for example, on what constitutes appropriate development of the Heretaunga Plains. And it will be interesting indeed to see how local Councils respond to a more strategically assertive Regional Council!

For citizens, these goals and objectives should become the standards or expectations against which to assess the effectiveness of the Council as a body, as well as the performance of individual Councillors.

Each Councillor has a “portfolio” for which they are responsible, as follows:

Rex McIntyre, Regional Leadership; Christine Scott, Water Futures; Allan Dick, Investment Strategy; Tim Gilbertson, Renewable Energy; Neil Kirton, Open Space and Economic Development; Ewan McGregor, Land Use Change; Liz Remmerswaal, Climate Change; Kevin Rose, Regional Infrastructure; and Eileen von Dadelszen, Regional Futures Scenarios.

The Councillors are “in charge of” their respective portfolios. Only time will tell what that means in practice.

As the workplan unfolds, some desired outcomes will be directly within the purview of the Regional Council to implement (such as minimising its own carbon footprint as an organisation).

But achieving many other desired outcomes — including, arguably, the most important ones — will require a collaborative commitment amongst all of the five Hawke’s Bay Councils. And again, only time will tell if the Regional Council’s strategic investment will have significant impact on their elected colleagues around the Bay … or be largely ignored.

In part, that will depend, as it should, on the quality of strategic thinking put forward by the Regional Council as it undertakes this exercise.

For now, it’s fair to say that the Regional Council has stuck its neck out, and raised the bar for itself and — indirectly — other Councils. That’s commendable.

While clearly all Councillors have had a hand in this launch, kudos to Rex McIntyre, Allan Dick and CEO Andrew Newman for driving the process.

Applause over. Now we wait!

Tom

P.S. I’m most intrigued by this statement from the implementation plan adopted with the strategic goals and objectives: “…the area of greatest strategic risk is the Council’s management of the region’s water resources.” BayBuzz couldn’t have said it better!

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