Community Boards 2.0
Community boards have an important role to play in our district and in the business of council. A recent review of the role and functions of community boards produced recommendations that will enhance their role within their own communities as well as their relationships and influence with councillors and council staff.
It is an exciting time for you to be a part of change and help implement Waipā Community Boards 2.0!
Where did Waipā Community Boards 2.0 come from?
In 2021, a representation review of how residents and ratepayers are represented through the election process was undertaken by Waipā District Council. As part of the review councillors chose to retain both the Te Awamutu and Cambridge Community Boards. At the same time councillors directed staff to undertake a review of the role and function of the community boards to ensure they were working effectively.
Dr Steven Finlay of EQUIP Consultancy conducted the review and his report produced five recommendations aimed to lift the performance of the Cambridge and the Te Awamutu & Kikikihi Community Boards.
Read the full report here
In summary, Dr Finlay’s recommendations were:
- That community boards demonstrate functional and participative democracy in action;
- That councillors and staff are to support the role of community boards within Waipā District Council;
- That community boards are to improve their relationships with councillors and staff;
- That council delegations to community boards are to meet defined community needs; and
- That community boards are to re-engage with their own communities and mana whenua.
His recommendations were recently adopted by councillors and will be implemented following the 2022 local government elections.
“The new Triennium represents an opportunity to ‘reset’ the relationships between Council, Committees, Community Boards and communities. One element cannot be seen in isolation from the others.” (Dr Steven Finlay ‘Waipā District Council Community Board Review: The state and relevance of community boards in 2022’ p.7)
The coming term will see community boards focus on key issues in their own communities. They will be provided with additional support from council staff and will work more closely with council overall.
What will this review mean for future community boards?
You can expect:
- A more strategic and tighter focus in line with council’s strategies and work programme
- Development of own strategic priorites within each community board
- Better induction process setting you up for success
- Resetting of role – 70% advocacy, 30% governance, skills & behaviours
- Early involvement in Council’s planning and place-making opportunities, bylaws, policies and projects in your communities
- Input into street shaping activites, such as urban mobility
- Re-engagement with local communities and mana whenua
- A review of the council delegations to the community boards
What does “functional and participative democracy in action” mean?
This includes bringing community boards into council discussion into the reform programmes (e.g. Future for Local Government Review) established by central government. Community boards setting strategic priorities that align with council outcomes and engaging at the front of the process. As well as creating innovative (without duplication) priorities from community-driven proposals/need. This all starts from the induction of community boards.
How will the community board strategic priorities work?
Strategic priorities will be set by each community board and may differ between each community board. Strategic priorities:
- Will provide a tighter focus for community board activites to drive success in those areas
- Will be used as a filter for community board activities, but will not prevent them from looking at other matters raised by their local communities
- Will be based on opportunities in the Waipā District Council work programme and reflective of community need. Opportunity for early involvement in council projects that are community board strategic priorities.
- Shared with councillors and staff and used to consider new delegations
- Progress is monitored and reported to Council every 6 months.
How will community boards have early involvement in council projects?
- Staff will review work programmes to provide opportunities for community board input into proposals like bylaws and policies or significant projects in their communities. Staff will brief and get input from the community boards from the start of the process.
- Work programmes will be aligned to allow for community board input
- Better staff reporting to the community boards with a future focus, community boards will be better informed of what is coming up.
What will be different about this induction programme?
We will take more time in letting you learn your trade and role within Waipā Distict Council. Induction for community boards will change from one evening session and a one-day Local Government New Zealand induction held regionally for new members to a more comprehensive programme, which we are still developing.
This will include:
- More scheduled induction sessions. These are likely to be a mix of sessions during the week and after hours. A schedule will be released after the close of nominations;
- Sessions will cover what you need to know about Council but we are also looking at introducing session on things like:
o how to effectively work as a team,
o how to achieve your objectives for your community;
- Continued support throughout the term including mid-term and end of term group reflection
What does re-engagment with the community and mana whenua mean?
This is all about community boards acting as facilitators of active citizenship and providing effective community representation. Community boards are encouraged to actively reach out through their networks to provide the community early opportunities for input in the future shape and nature of their spaces.
It is important the community boards create a space for mana whenua on the agenda, aligning to and supporting iwi strategic plans with the help and support of staff to establish the relationships.
What do you mean ‘Review council delegations to community boards’?
At the moment council has delegated the following responsibilities to the community boards:
- Role of community boards as described in the Local Government Act 2002
- Distribution of discretionary funds for the promotion of the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities in the present for the future, including for their own projects
- Organise the annual ANZAC Day civic service (Cambridge Community Board)
- Organise the annual Armistice Remembrance Sunday civic service (Cambridge Community Board
- To maintain and enhance the sister city relationships with Le Quesnoy (France) and Bihoro (Japan) (Cambridge Community Board)
In future the recommendation is that the delegations are co-designed by both councillors and community boards, but ownership of the delegations is with council. This is once the strategic priorities are established by the community boards.
Will these changes involve more time commitment than currently?
It might do. This new way of working means the community boards having more involvement early on in council processes rather than at the end, so the work will have a different focus than it does at present and may require more time.
Time commitment will also depend on the extent of your community board’s strategic priorities and how much time it will take to achieve those objectives for your community.
More time will be required for the community board induction, but this is all about setting the community boards up for success.