Auckland Council’s economic development committee just managed to get a quorum for its last meeting, but failed to do so today.
With a quorum of 6, it managed to rustle up only 3 of its members – deputy chairman Ross Clow and councillors Linda Cooper & Penny Webster.
The economic development role was left to a forum in the council’s first term, when forums were set up as places to engender ideas. However, they often veered to the formal ticking off of business, even though they needed to report to a higher tier of committees.
For this term of the council, the forums were dropped but some committees, such as economic development, are still required to make recommendations (in this case to the regional policy & strategy committee) rather than decisions in their own right.
Without any riveting business, there is therefore good reason to stay away.
However, today’s business included a presentation by members of Le Pasifika Village Park project seeking council support for a land occupancy agreement while they seek a longer-term solution for their cultural tourism project.
It also included a presentation from Comet Auckland – originally the City of Manukau Education Trust, now an Auckland Council-controlled organisation & charitable trust, and the kind of outfit the council needs to foster its Southern Initiative policy of raising South Auckland’s educational aspirations & standards and economic strength is ever to be taken seriously.
Comet Auckland’s budget has been halved.
The last item for today’s canned agenda was on economic development activity in the wake of a review of the chief planning officer’s division of the council.
Leady strategy advisor Wayne Brown was to have made a presentation on implications arising from the review for economic development activity and the distribution of the former teams of the council’s economic development department.
Some committee members were unable to attend because they were on other council business. But these matters before the committee were either of minor importance, or the council needs to rethink how it manages work on economic policy & strategy.
Or – the alternative which would garner greatest support – the council needs to:
- shrink its committee structure
- shrink its business coverage
- concentrate on the big picture, and
- shift business to the local boards and revise its basis for funding them to a mechanism which is no longer an uncertain handout
And, while it’s about that, the council needs to:
- rethink rates as an income source
- talk to ratepayers about how development authorities & alternative funding structures might work, and
- set a rates policy which doesn’t include an assumption of automatic rises.
Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.