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Council performance analysis incomplete

Council performance analysis incomplete, says Local Government New Zealand

Local Government New Zealand disagrees with Business New Zealand’s analysis of council performance on the grounds that it is incomplete in the range of factors used for evaluating councils, and represents a fundamentally different philosophical standpoint to that employed by many councils.

Chief Executive Eugene Bowen states Local Government New Zealand supports any initiatives which help councils improve their performance and effectiveness but this analysis is incomplete in its perspective and underlying methodology.

“While we in no way wish to disparage the achievements of the Hot Council award winners, identifying business friendliness as the sole success factor for councils is inappropriate, particularly under the wider responsibilities of the Local Government Act 2002.

“Councils are political bodies that allow communities to make judgements about how resources are allocated within their boundaries. Even in the context of business friendliness, while cost constraint is desirable, so too is the provision of infrastructure supporting business and social development. This infrastructure will usually involve councils in significant expenditure.

“Councils’ resource allocation judgements often involve making trade-offs between competing demands and balancing business needs with social, cultural, environmental and economic needs. It is recognized internationally that communities not only need good infrastructure but they also need a high quality of life. For a community, investment in safety, education, cultural and recreational facilities helps to build this quality of life and attract business to the community,” says Mr Bowen.

“The diversity of councils and local government makes comparison difficult and often impractical. For this reason, our role is to focus on identifying and encouraging the sharing of best practice among our members. Our aim is to particularly assist the smaller resource-constrained councils to meet the expectations of their communities.

“We have given Business New Zealand a detailed response to their methodology and analysis, including our concerns about their rating statistics methodology and their judging of environment management performance on selected Resource Management Act indicators. Benchmarking councils is an important task that requires much more comprehensive analysis to be meaningful,” says Mr Bowen.

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