Collaboration underway on governance Action Plan

Invercargill City Council is pushing ahead with its Governance Review Action Plan, with the project’s Governance Group this week confirming a timeline of activities and the tasks of five working groups.

The Governance Group, which includes the Council’s two new External Appointees, the Deputy Mayor, a Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) representative and an Independent Governance Advisor, met this week to discuss project progress and monitoring.

Chair Jeff Grant, one of the two External Appointees, says work got underway before Christmas and there’s already been a lot of groundwork done.

“I’m pleased with progress so far. We’ve set some challenging timeframes for the work ahead, with both staff and elected members committed to getting on with making the changes the city needs.

“Both myself and Lindsay McKenzie have been impressed so far with the Council’s approach to the governance review and the shared commitment to the job ahead. We will be working closely with the organisation and elected members in coming months to aid and assist the implementation of the action plan and to guide future activities. I’m confident we will achieve a lot in a short space of time, while taking the time to ensure we get it right.”

The Governance Group agreed to a range of activities which would see much of the Action Plan implemented in the first half of the year. It also approved the parameters and objective of five working groups focused on:

  • Reviewing strategic projects and supporting Long Term Plan preparation and delivery
  • Supporting the committee structure
  • Training for committee chairs and councillors
  • Supporting the Mayor and CE and clarifying the role of the Deputy Mayor
  • Developing media protocols and bringing the community along.

ICC Chief Executive Clare Hadley says the working groups have been formed to address the key findings and recommendations of the Thomson report and develop the Council’s governance capability.

“All of the groups met prior to Christmas and again in January to set agendas for the year ahead and get on with their work. Along with this work, we are putting in place processes for monitoring, measuring and reporting progress so we can keep everyone updated. We’re working closely with the DIA who are supportive of the progress made, and also understand the importance of taking the time needed to build lasting solutions.”

Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark, a member of the Governance Group, says he has witnessed improving relationships between elected members and the Chief Executive and staff.

“The issues we face are complex in some areas and we will need to find a unique ‘Invercargill’ set of solutions. The input of the two External Advisers has been helpful in that process which includes behavioural changes for many of us.”

The Action Plan, adopted by Council in December 2020, was prepared in response to a Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) letter highlighting concerns about significant conflict between elected representatives and the chief executive. A subsequent Governance Review, carried out by Richard Thomson, included an overview of the key themes affecting governance at the Council and set out a range of recommendations to make improvements for the future.

As part of the Action Plan, Jeff Grant and Lindsay McKenzie were appointed in late 2020 as External Appointees to assist the council implement the Action Plan.


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