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Public Input Will Help With Decision Making Process

Media Release

29 September 2014

Public Input Will Help With Decision Making Process

Public input on a new draft policy will help people to be better aware of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council decisions and the role the public has in influencing them.

A draft Significance and Engagement Policy was approved by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council last week. All local authorities need to have a similar policy in place by December this year.

HBRC’s draft policy is available on www.hbrc.govt.nz, keyword: Significance or by contacting Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. Comments are required by 24 October 2014.

Like other local authorities, HBRC already has an adopted Significance Policy, which is in the current Long Term Plan. This year’s amendment to the Local Government Act adds an engagement policy as a formal requirement of Council, whereas before Council managers and communication teams simply made the best interpretation of their own approach to engagement.

The aim of the significance policy is to help Councillors and the public identify where an issue, proposal or decision is very important and has likely consequences for the region or interested parties, or impacts on HBRC’s levels of service set in the current Long Term Plan, the Council’s ability to carry out its role, or the financial or resource costs.

The new draft engagement policy will guide Regional Councillors in deciding how much communication or discussion with the public may be necessary to get the most appropriate input on any significant decision.

“Hawke’s Bay Regional Council wants authentic conversations with people and we are using an internationally recognised ‘spectrum of engagement’ approach in the policy so the public can clearly understand what levels of involvement are possible in working with HBRC,” says Drew Broadley, Community Engagement and Communications Manager.

He explains that informing people may be as simple as a letter or email to directly affected parties, while involving people or collaborating on a decision could require seminars or field trips, working groups and open meetings. An example of empowering the public and placing the decision in their own hands is the recently advertised opportunity for a poll to be held on the voting system used to elect Regional Councillors.

People can comment on the draft Significance and Engagement Policy by using HBRC’s facebook page HBRegionalCouncil, the twitter handle hawkesbayRC, by emailing drew@hbrc.govt.nz or by writing to Community Engagement Manager, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Private Bag 6006, Napier 4142.

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