Devonport-Takapuna Local Board will open up its workshops to the public and media in an effort to create better understanding and transparency over its decision-making process.
At its meeting last night, 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,” she said.
“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 will still have 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, Ms 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.