Invercargill City Council will on Tuesday consider a positive review of progress made over the past six months to address matters raised in the Thomson Report into city governance.
The review was carried out by Richard Thomson, author of the Independent Governance Review Report received by Council late last year. His six-month review of progress to address the issues raised commends the work carried out by council over recent months.
The review begins with the summary: “My general finding…is of a Council (both governance and management) that is in a vastly better space than they were 6 months ago.”
It goes on to say that the Council has transformed itself in a very short period of time to “…a well-performing Council that has delivered on its immediate priorities.”
It notes good progress particularly in areas of concern previously raised about:
- The role of the Deputy Mayor
- Relationships between the Chief Executive/senior managers and Council
- The “stone in the shoe” issues that were causing contention
- Regional relationship concerns
- Relationships between councillors.
The review also points to some ongoing issues and makes recommendations for council activity over coming months.
“This is a Council that remains a work in progress but should be pleased (both governance and management alike) of the progress that has been made. I congratulate them on their willingness to accept strong criticism and to respond in such a positive manner… Nobody is suggesting it is perfect but I believe that it is now meeting the expectations that its ratepayers should expect of it.”
A research survey of Councillors and staff was also undertaken in order to provide a quantitative overview of the progress made over the past six months.
“The majority of elected representatives and staff believe that ICC councillors have made noticeable progress in the past six months towards having respectful working relationships, which uphold the code of conduct and maintain public confidence in council,” the research states.
Chief Executive Clare Hadley said it was good to get independent confirmation of the progress the council had been making over recent months.
“It is clear around the council table and among staff that the commitment we’ve all put in over the past six months has made a real difference to the way we work. We put in place a fairly rigorous programme of improvements and I’m proud of the efforts made to stick to the plan and get results.
“Our hard work has paid off, but we know we need to keep focused on our improvement plan. I believe the council is in a good place now, focused on delivering results for the people of Invercargill.”
Risk and Assurance Committee Independent Chairman Bruce Robertson agreed that clear progress was obvious around the council table.
“Council staff and elected members are to be commended for their work to address the issues raised in the original Thomson Report. It’s not always easy having someone point out where you’re not doing so well, but I’ve seen the Council address the issues head-on and make some very good progress.”
The Council will receive and officially consider the review alongside recommendations from staff about how the governance review programme of work continues into 2021.
The review report was set to be received by Council on Thursday 19 August, but was delayed by the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown. An in-person meeting to receive the report was preferred by elected members, however, after further consideration regarding the ongoing lockdown restrictions, a decision was made to meet via Zoom.
The review and report for council can be viewed online at icc.govt.nz/governancereview