Devonport-Takapuna Local Board will open up its workshops to the public in an effort to create better understanding and transparency over its decision-making process.
At its meeting last night (18 May), the board passed a Notice of Motion by new chair Ruth Jackson to open the board’s weekly workshops to the public and media.
“Obviously I am very pleased at the outcome. Public and media attendance at workshops gives our community the opportunity to be fully informed at the early stages of topics being discussed.
“While no decisions are made at workshops, people will be able hear the information and advice we receive that help us make the decisions at our formal business meetings.
“Open workshops dispel the appearance of secrecy, and create greater public trust and confidence in the local board process and the decisions we make on behalf of the community we serve.”
While the board’s workshops will now be open by default, the board has the ability to exclude the public from specific items – in the same way that items in a monthly business meeting can be held in a confidential session – under the provisions of the Local Government Information and Meetings Act.
The board had held open workshops for two terms, from 2013 to 2019, but they were closed at the start of the current term, with some members expressing concern that open workshops hampered officers in providing honest and frank information to members.
However, Ruth Jackson says the prior experience of Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, and of the three other boards which have open workshops, gives her every confidence that these concerns are unfounded.
There are now four local boards holding open workshops: Devonport-Takapuna, Hibiscus and Bays, Kaipātiki, and Waitākere Ranges.
Read the full report, including the notice of motion on the board’s agenda. (see item 13)
What happens next?
What are local board workshops?
Local board workshops are weekly discussions of the local board, held for the purpose of providing board members with information on current or upcoming projects at an early stage by a range of council, Council Controlled Organisations or community partners.
Workshops provide an opportunity for board members to not only receive information but to ask questions and discuss areas of interest or concern.
While the public can attend workshops as observers they cannot present to board members. Following this week's decision media will be able to report on proceedings at the workshop.
Local boards do not pass resolutions or make decisions at their weekly workshops. All decision making occurs at their monthly business meetings, where the public continue to have the right to attend and address the board on matters of interest or concern.
A record of what was discussed and presented at the workshops is published on the local board’s webpage at least two working days after the meeting.
Business meetings and community forums
All local boards hold business meetings, usually once a month and are where they pass resolutions and make decisions for the organisation to action. The public can speak at these meetings by prior arrangement and can attend as an observer. Media also attend these and report on the debate.
Devonport-Takapuna Board also hosts a bi-monthly community forum where the people can come and present to the board any ideas, or issues they want to make them aware of. No decisions are made at the forum.
Find out more about our local board meetings, community forums and workshops.