The first quarterly report of Invercargill City Council’s External Appointees has shown positive progress to address the issues raised in the Thomson Report, while noting there is still more to be done to achieve the outcomes needed.
The report was discussed at Monday’s meeting of Council’s Risk and Assurance Committee, along with progress updates from the Project Governance Group and working groups.
External Appointees Jeff Grant and Lindsay McKenzie noted: “It is about six months since the Thomson Report was completed…Some improvements in the situation that Council faced have occurred since and there is a more positive outlook…Changing ‘the way things have been done around here’ takes time and effort, but we feel positive about what we are observing, despite it being early days.
“We think that this is due to the Report findings resonating with many, some self-reflections and the passage of time itself. The outputs from the five work groups that are doing work to support the Report findings will materially assist.”
The External Appointees updated Council on the five outcomes set in their Terms of Reference:
- “The elected Council is functioning as a governing body”
The EAs were impressed with the support the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) provides the Council and committees, commenting positively on the Long Term Plan process. More work was needed to enable active involvement of councillors in setting meeting agendas, while a range of improved reporting requirements were noted.
- “The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Committee Chairs are able to provide leadership to other elected members and the Council organisation”
The report noted continued leadership challenges, despite work to address the issue. Work was underway to resolve support requirements for the Mayor.
- Elected Council members have the understanding required to carry out their local governance role”
The working group is working with councillors to identify professional development needs. The EAs’ reported noted an opportunity to improve the capability and capacity of the organisation in some areas.
- Elected council members have the capability and knowledge to make decisions effectively”
The report noted the need for ongoing work to improve the quality of information provided to council, recognised the critical issue of leadership by Committee Chairs, and noted the importance of quality minute-taking.
- “Elected council members area able to work effectively with the Council Chief Executive and ELT”
The EAs found the interaction between most councillors and the CE and ELT is constructive. Progress was being made but taking longer than would be preferred, with the report noting “An improvement in mutual trust between the parties is needed and will come with time as the opportunity to act professionally towards each other is taken and the benefits of open and honest dialogue are realised.”
The meeting also considered an update on progress of the working groups set up to deliver the recommendations of the Thomson Report. This work was progressing well, with some extra time being taken to deliver some of the objectives in order to ensure the right outcome.
ICC Chief Executive Clare Hadley says the quarterly report is a good indication of the work put in to date to address the issues facing the organisation.
“We knew we had a big job ahead of us when the Council adopted the Thomson Report and Action Plan to address the issues raised late last year. I am seeing good progress and we are all cognisant that we need to keep doing the work to get to where we need to be.”
Risk and Audit Committee Independent Chair Bruce Robertson says discussion with EAs at this week’s meeting was productive, showing good progress on the response to the Thomson Report and providing confidence the Council is on-track to deliver the results needed for its community.
The report has been proactively released, and is available here.