Invercargill City Council has received a report that tracks its progress in responding to governance matters raised in late 2020 and recommends next steps.
The Governance Review Legacy Report was presented to today’s Project Governance Group (PGG) meeting and will be formally considered by the Council at its meeting next week (Tuesday 10 May).
It provides an update for the community, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), local body election candidates and the wider local government sector about how the Council “took ownership of its problems, what it did about them and what were the outcomes and learnings”.
It concludes that “…it is time for the Council to move forward without the overt support of the (Working on Working Together) programme, taking control of matters and demonstrating to the community that residents can have confidence in the core leadership/governance skills of elected members supported by an effective management team”.
The “Working on Working Together” programme was put in place to address concerns raised by the DIA in late 2020. This included the introduction of two External Appointees (EAs) and establishment of the PGG, project objectives and various streams of work.
External Appointee Jeff Grant says the report shows just how much work has gone in over the past 18 months.
“The report clearly shows that progress has been made – in particular, that there is now a well-developed interface between governance and management, a stronger relationship between senior managers and councillors, a recognition that a positive culture is important, as is a proactive approach to communicating with the community and media.
“The report also acknowledges there is more work to be done in certain areas, in particular with regard to leadership within the council and developing a reputation as a high performing council. Mechanisms and support has been put in place to help ensure this remains a focus.”
The report noted the various foundation documents, processes and tools put in place over the past 18 months to strengthen the organisation. These include development of a Council Charter, a professional development programme for elected members, an induction programme and improvements to reporting processes.
“In addition, council members have been learning and applying some soft skills, which should contribute equally to performance,” Mr Grant says.
“It is imperative that these are not forgotten. They need to be kept alive, put in front of elected members, practised and applied. It would be so easy for people and groups to revert unless this occurs. Whose job is it? Everyone’s – but Mayors and CEOs need to be the key champions.”
Chief Executive Clare Hadley says the report marks a positive milestone in the Council’s journey to address the issues raised.
“There has been a clear, structured effort to make improvements right across the organisation and we can be pleased with the progress we’ve made. We now have robust processes in place to support our councillors and to manage and guide our staff.
“We know that there is always more that can be done, however, and our focus now will remain on keeping up the efforts of the past 18 months.”
The full Council will consider the Governance Review Legacy Report and recommendations for next steps at its next meeting on Tuesday 10 May.