Governance

Tenure

Limit Councilors tenure to a maximum of three terms – the turnover isn’t high enough among elected officials. Same old faces same old solutions.

Looking at the Super Council with the community Board structure would also enable more people to be involved, bringing fresh ideas and solutions and directions for the community.

Have regular forums for people who might wish to stand for council so that they are clear on the role and functions of Council/councilors.

Accessibility to governance

Council Committee meetings tend to be in office hours and in town. We want flexibility of times/days and locations for example in the suburbs they affect and at times outside regular work hours. We also expect reasonable time limits for oral hearings. At the moment 2 minute limits are too constrained.

Remuneration

Councillors could be paid for meetings attended plus a small base salary.

Governance

Council officers need to be ‘distanced’ from political decisions.

There is a great deal of confusion between Governance and management. Councilors are elected to be the Governors of the City (Local Government Act 2002) looking at the big picture rather than the detail. Too often Councilors get involved in discussing details of implementation instead of concentrating on the setting of policy, the setting of guidelines. When councilors fail to be governors, Council staff step in.

Offering as a Candidate for Council

The 'Election Candidates Handbook' that is given to each candidate for council describes in Section 25 the Roles and Responsibilities of Elected
Members viz:
1. What do Elected Members do?

The Code of Conduct sets out that elected members, acting as the Council, are responsible for governance, including:

  • the development and adoption of Council policy
  • monitoring the performance of the Council against its stated objectives and policies
  • prudent stewardship of Council resources
  • employment of the Chief Executive.

Elected members are also responsible for representing the interests of the residents and ratepayers of the city.

Community board members fulfil similar responsibilities, with a focus on representing and advocating for the interests of their community.

It is important to note that unless otherwise provided in the Local Government Act 2002 or in Wellington City Council’s Standing Orders, the Council can only act by majority decisions at meetings. Any individual member (including the Mayor) has no authority to act on behalf of the Council unless provided for by statute or the Council has expressly delegated such authority.

In general terms, elected members spend much of their time:

  • reading official reports and documents
  • attending meetings (both formal and informal)
  • meeting with, or speaking to, colleagues, council officers or residents
  • dealing with correspondence (emails, letters)
  • attending official and community functions and events.

All this requires a significant time commitment from elected members.

2. Time Commitment
Depending on the role (Mayor, Deputy Mayor, committee chair, Councillor, community board chair or community board member) the time commitment can be significant. Many official meetings and briefings are scheduled during the day, and can take two to three full days out of the average working week. Depending on the role, there will also be a number of night time meetings to attend, not to mention invitations to a range of evening functions and events. Around all this, elected members will need to find time to deal with correspondence and communications from residents, and carry out the necessary reading to prepare for upcoming meetings.

The organisation offers support through the Democratic Services business unit to elected members to assist them in their duties.

Elected members need to be aware of the impact that can occur on families as a result of being elected as a Mayor, Councillor or community board member. This can range from needing to take time off work to attend meetings, to attending night meetings, receiving telephone calls at various times of the day and night, or being asked to address issues when shopping at the supermarket, watching sport, attending church, or even walking the dog.

Some members of the community see elected representatives as being available 24 hours 7 days a week. This may often depend on the issue currently before the Council or a community board but generally most citizen contact with elected representatives is done at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner.

3. Skills and Experience
The Handbook sets out the formal requirements in relation to standing as a candidate for election to a community board, or the city or regional council (e.g. the requirement to be a New Zealand citizen).

Given the nature of the role of an elected member, there are a number of skills which would be helpful in undertaking the role. These include:
analysing written material and oral presentations

  • time management
  • listening
  • relationship building
  • influencing and negotiating
  • understanding financial information
  • communicating with and through the media.

Experience in business, the public sector environment, with community or voluntary groups, in decision-making through meetings, and working with people of diverse backgrounds and interests, would also be useful.

The Democratic Services business unit runs an induction and training programme to assist elected members to improve their skills in these areas.

Code of Conduct for Elected Members

code of conduct provides guidance on the standards of behaviour that are expected
from the Mayor and elected members of the Wellington City Council. The code applies to
elected members in their dealings with:

  • each other
  • the Chief Executive
  • all staff employed by the Chief Executive on behalf of the council
  • the media
  • the general public.

The full Code can be viewed at http://www.wellington.govt.nz/about/mayor/pdfs/elected-codeofconduct.pdf

Super Council

No "Super Council". The bigger the Council the less democracy.

The greater Wellington (Cities) area is a small area both in terms of New Zealand but certainly international standards.

A Super Council for Wellington, Hutt Valley, Porirua and perhaps Kapiti could work. But in order for it to do so, there must be a network of Community Councils responsible for a community of interest (whatever "Community of interest" means). A super Council that can co-ordinate services across the greater area eg sewage treatment, water, regional transport etc is a necessity while really delegating to Community Councils powers, duties and responsibilities to "run" a community Council. Already Wellington City uses facilities located in Porirua. Community Councils would give locat residents/ratepayers/business people more say in the running of their local community.

Voting Systems

Wellington City Council operates under the “Single Transferable Vote” (STV) system for the election of mayor and councilors.

The city has 5 wards from which are elected between 2 and 3 Councilors. This arrangement of 5 wards where 2 or 3 persons are elected means that each ward is too small for STV to be operated effectively. Perhaps Council should look at combining wards to ensure the effective use of STV which ideally needs 5 candidates to be elected for each ward.

Local elections for the Wellington City area involve two different systems. The fact that these two different systems are included on the same A3 sheet has caused confusion amongst some in past local authority elections.

Voting for Wellington City Council and Capital & Coast District Health Board is by STV. In this voters are required to list in numerical order their preferred candidates. In voting for the Greater Wellington Regional Council, the system used is FPP where a certain number of candidates are voted for by ticks without specifying any numeric priority.

The FWPRA believes that both systems can be used but in order to minimise any confusion, that the voting papers be separated onto two separate sheets so that the STV voting system is on one sheet and the FPP system for the Wellington Regional Council is on a separate sheet. Perhaps different colour paper could be used to further differentiate the voting systems.

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