In a Council meeting last month, a decision was made that was years in the making, and that shifts some powers closer to local communities. It doesn’t seem to have received much press and I haven’t seen elected members commenting about it on social media. Read on for details…
When I was on the campaign trail in the 2016 local body elections, an issue I heard discussed was the decision making authority and responsibilities held by Christchurch’s Community Boards. I recall at one event mayor Lianne Dalziel spoke of a desire to increase the scope of Boards’ roles. Post-election, however, I didn’t hear much more, however it’s now clear that a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes, in workshops and seminars involving elected members on the Council and our Community Boards.
I’ve previously written a recap of the decision on the downstream effects of the Christchurch Northern Corridor made at the Council’s meeting on 13 June 2019. At the same meeting, the output of the work on Community Board responsibilities was presented to Councillors for endorsement and approval. The details can be found in the agenda for the meeting (see item 16). A video record of the discussion on this item is available in two parts – initially here, and then more detail in a second part here.
Ultimately the staff recommendation was passed unanimously by Council, giving a green light to:
- The signing of a Council – Community Board Governance Partnership Agreement (“a statement of intent, good will and partnership”)
- Recognition of Community Board Plans as strategic documents to be included in the preparation of Council plans
- An increase in delegations to Community Boards, on the principle that decisions that can be made effectively by Boards should be made by them.
The increase in delegations to Community Boards promises to make the governance of the City more efficient, as Boards will have the power to make more local decisions, rather than having an extra step of making recommendations to the full Council for final decisions.
Councillor Sara Templeton moved the staff recommendations, stating to the meeting that the partnership agreement was the most important aspect – “…formalising community board plans developed in partnership with their communities as strategic documents for council planning, will give the boards a lot more influence than they have ever had”.
Papanui Councillor Mike Davidson commented that “…it is the community board that’s at the grass roots. It’s the Community Board that knows their community, and not the City Council – local decisions need to be made at a local level”.
Readers may be aware that I am a Community Board candidate in the 2019 local body elections. I’m fully supportive of the decision made by Council on 13 June – as noted in the quotes above, boards are best placed to make the local decisions that they are now more able to make, and through their local plans are gaining greater influence into the Council’s planning process.
Question for readers
What do you think about the way decision making authority is being shared between Council and Community Boards?