GWRC sets up com­mit­tees

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By MICHAEL KOPP

Wa­ter and cli­mate change are among the ‘‘ big is­sues’’ lead­ing an­other whole­sale re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil’s com­mit­tees and as­sign­ments for the next tri­en­nium.

The coun­cil is po­si­tion­ing it­self for greater re­spon­si­bil­ity for a wider range of re­gional af­fairs, and fac­ing the prospect of a Welling­ton Su­percity fight.

The most prom­i­nent change of fo­cus is the change of com­mit­tee in­tent from op­er­a­tional and pol­icy over­sight of GWRC to over­ar­ch­ing so­cial lead­er­ship sig­nif­i­cance, marked by name changes to re­gional ‘‘well­be­ing’’ com­mit­tees.

Re-elected chair­woman Fran Wilde, whose lead­er­ship was ex­pan­sively praised by sev­eral coun­cil­lors at their first full pub­lic meet­ing on Novem­ber 18, said, ‘‘ Peo­ple need to de­cide what are the big is­sues’’.

‘‘We have a list of them from our plan­ning day [pri­vate work­shop].’’

Ms Wilde and deputy chair­man Peter Glen­sor are firmly in charge of the new coun­cil, which has an in­creased left-Labour-Green bal­ance with three new mem­bers – for­mer Labour Govern­ment min­is­ter Paul Swain, Labour’s Daran Pon­ter and Porirua’s Jenny Brash, an in­de­pen­dent but lib­eral-gree­nie.

Only for­mer Carter­ton mayor, Gary McPhee, who traded his mo­tor­cy­cle leathers for a pin­stripe suit for the first meet­ing, may in­ject some cen­tre-right views, as for­mer Welling­ton Re­gional Cham­ber of Com­merce head Charles Fin­ney lost out along with for­mer GWRC deputy chair­man Terry McDavitt, the for­mer trans­port pol­icy supremo who fol­lowed Lower Hutt’s Glen Evans.

Ms Wilde be­gan ma­jor changes in 2007, when she ousted pre­vi­ous chair­man Ian Buchanan, who lost his Wairarapa seat in this year’s elec­tion.

The other sit­ting coun­cil­lors who failed to be re-elected were Up­per Hutt’s Rex Kir­ton, Welling­ton’s Sally Baber, and Porirua’s John Burke.

Ms Wilde’s ini­tia­tives in­clude up­grad­ing the un­of­fi­cial Maori ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee out­side coun­cil (Ara Tahi) to a full coun­cil com­mit­tee (Te Upoko Ta­iao).

That was done in the name of re­or­gan­is­ing the over­sight of nat­u­ral re­sources plan­ning, but gives equal mem­ber­ship on the com­mit­tee to ap­pointed, not elected, Maori iwi rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The coun­cil may ap­point out­side mem­bers to its bod­ies.

Te Upoko Ta­iao re­mains as is, un­der the co-chair­man­ship of vet­eran councillor Chris Laid­law (the other co-chair­per­son will be a Maori ap­pointee), and its first co-chair­woman, Ms Wilde, as a full mem­ber in­stead of an ex-of­fi­cio mem­ber, as she is with other com­mit­tees.

Ms Wilde and Mr Glen­sor said at the meet­ing it was im­por­tant to ex­plain the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion in the pub­lic fo­rum.

‘‘The Crown re­alised over the last 18 months that re­gional coun­cils have re­spon­si­bil­ity for many is­sues,’’ Ms Wilde said.

Mr Glen­sor said the ad­di­tion of ‘‘well­be­ing’’ com­mit­tees pushed the struc­ture to­wards more ‘‘in­no­va­tive’’ so­lu­tions.

GWRC has, dur­ing the last six years, taken on, mostly on its own po­lit­i­cal ini­tia­tive, greater ac­tions in the so­cial, eco­nomic and cul­tural side of life, well be­yond the orig­i­nal in­tent of re­gional coun­cils, first set up in 1989, to man­age the Re­source Man­age­ment Act and re­gional in­fra­struc­ture like wa­ter sup­ply.

The three new ‘‘ well­be­ing’’ com­mit­tees are: en­vi­ron­men­tal, chaired by Cr Bar­bara Don­ald­son, with new councillor Jenny Brash as deputy; eco­nomic, chaired by deputy chair­man Cr Glen­sor, with Cr Paul Bruce as deputy; and so­cial and cul­tural, with sec­ond-term councillor Nigel Wil­son as chair­man and vet­eran councillor San­dra Greig as deputy.

Com­mit­tees dis­es­tab­lished in­clude sus­tain­abil­ity, catch­ment man­age­ment, trans­port and ac­cess, reg­u­la­tory, and civil de­fence and emer­gency man­age­ment.

The for­mer fi­nance, au­dit and risk com­mit­tee be­comes just au­dit and risk. Cr Ju­dith Aitken re­mains as the chair­woman, with Cr Glen­sor as deputy.

Cr Glen­sor re­tains his con­trol over pub­lic trans­port as his for­mer trans­port and ac­cess com­mit­tee’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­come part of the eco­nomic well­be­ing com­mit­tee, which he chairs, and road trans­port as well.

Ms Wilde and Cr Glen­sor stay as chair­woman and deputy chair­man of the re­gional trans­port com­mit­tee, man­dated by leg­is­la­tion and in­clud­ing out­side rep­re­sen­ta­tion, which over­sees all re­gional land trans­port strat­egy and plan­ning, in­clud­ing roads.

It has a large num­ber of out­side ap­pointees, in­clud­ing from the New Zealand Trans­port Agency and health, iwi, busi­ness and spe­cial in­ter­est groups, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal, cy­cling, al­ter­na­tive trans­port and ur­ban growth or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Ms Wilde and Cr Glen­sor re­tain their in­put to the Welling­ton re­gional strat­egy com­mit­tee which was set up with a $5 mil­lion a year ex­tra rates levy to lead the re­gional strat­egy de­vel­oped by the re­gion’s cities and busi­ness in­ter­ests, to im­prove the re­gion’s econ­omy.

That com­mit­tee has a num­ber of ap­pointed mem­bers from the com­mu­nity, but the full coun­cil re­tains the fi­nal vote on any ac­tions.

Ms Wilde said at the meet­ing, ‘‘We’re try­ing to free up meet­ing agen­das so peo­ple can dis­cuss big is­sues. And we’re re­spond­ing to the Lo­cal Govern­ment Act. ’’

She said this is a more com­pre­hen­sive but more ef­fi­cient or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive David Ben­ham said of­fi­cers would try to ‘‘stream­line’’ what was pre­sented in meet­ing doc­u­ments, and quar­terly rather than half-yearly full re­ports.

But Ms Wilde warned coun­cil­lors they ‘‘will still be swamped with pa­pers’’.

One as­pect of the coun­cil’s way of do­ing busi­ness trou­bled new councillor and for­mer mayor for 12 years of Porirua, Jenny Brash.

She was concerned about the in­abil­ity to raise is­sues in gen­eral busi­ness not on a meet­ing agenda at com­mit­tee meet­ings.

It is pos­si­ble to do so at full coun­cil meet­ings.

Cr Paul Bruce said he wanted to see an in­crease in ‘‘ com­mu­nity en­gage­ment’’.

Ms Wilde said coun­cil stand­ing or­ders could be changed to al­low it, but ‘‘if you want to do gen­eral busi­ness you’ll have to think care­fully’’ about the change’’.

‘‘We’re pretty re­laxed about how we con­duct our meet­ings,’’ she said,

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