Council committee appointments unveiled

Post updated 25/10 with comment from Wellington CIty Council.

Below are the proposed council committee chairs, portfolio leaders and committee memberships due to be confirmed at the next Council meeting.

The Dominion Post reported last week that Celia Wade Brown was looking to spread out responsibilities among councillors, and a wanted to introduce a new, specialised structure. It now has Council plus five subject based committees.

All bar two, have at least one Green Councillor (excluding Wade-Brown who belongs to all) which could prove useful to her agenda. Simon Woolf is the only new Councillor who isn’t chairing something or serving as a portfolio leader, he seems to be making up the numbers at this stage.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the new committee structure for the Wellington City Council will drive the agenda and provide a sharper focus on the key issues for Wellington. The four new subject-based committees give a focus on pressing issues for Wellington, of good economic growth, access to community facilities, affordable housing, smart urban development and protection of our natural and built heritage.

“The new committee structure provides a great opportunity for our Councillors to focus on opportunities and challenges facing the Capital,” said the Mayor. “This term’s Councillors have considerable experience and knowledge on a wide range of issues, combined with enthusiasm for the city and their role. All have much to offer, and all are keen to get on with the job.

“Under this new arrangement, that experience can be focused more sharply to provide streamlined leadership on the issues that affect Wellingtonians.”

“The new ‘committee of the whole’ Governance Finance and Planning, chaired by Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, allows all Councillors to guide the important financial and planning decisions for the city.”

There are portfolio leaders within each committee, working with the chair as the overall leader of each area. Appointments to the boards and trusts of CCOs (not remunerated), will made in November.

“As circumstances evolve there may also be working parties, liaison groups and potentially further portfolios,” says the Mayor. “Committee work is only one aspect of Council and I’m encouraging elected members to fully connect with their citizens and businesses, both formally and informally.”

The recommendations are:

Governance, Finance and Planning

Chairperson: Justin Lester

Membership: Mayor and all Councillors

Like Ian McKinnon before him, Lester, as the new Deputy Mayor will chair this.

Economic Growth and Arts

Chairperson: Jo Coughlan

Deputy Chairperson: Simon Marsh

Portfolio Leaders: Arts: Ray Ahipene Mercer, Small Medium Enterprise and Tertiary Liaison: Simon Marsh

Membership: Ahipene-Mercer, Coughlan, Eagle, Lester, Marsh, Peck, Young

I’m surprised Coughlan clung on as Chair after a pretty lackluster (from achievements to her attendance record) during the previous term. This could have been a good opportunity to give a promotion to Marsh, who is no less qualified or experienced in business and economic development than Coughlan.

“Wellington has enormous potential,” says Cr Coughlan. “This committee is charged with growing the Wellington economy through attracting talent and investment to the Capital, promoting our opportunities, fostering economic collaboration and growing our arts and events sector.”

The Economy and Arts Committee will focus on delivering sustainable long-term economic growth for the city, promote the city’s visitor attractions, deliver high-quality events and support the development of smart businesses in the city. The Committee will also work to build Wellington’s unique identity, raise the city’s international profile, and ensure Wellington continues to be New Zealand’s arts and culture capital by supporting a range of opportunities for entertainment and expression.

Community, Sports and Recreation

Chairperson: Paul Eagle

Portfolio Leaders: Community Resilience: Malcolm Sparrow

Membership: Eagle, Free, Marsh, Peck, Ritchie, Sparrow, Woolf

Pretty unsurprising committee Chair and composition. Eagle should be able to do this in his sleep, but will need to step up from last term where he focused more on community engagement. Leading a committee of newbies, except for Marsh and Ritchie.

The focus of the Community, Sport and Recreation Committee is to build strong, safe, healthy communities for a better quality of life. It will be responsible for social infrastructure, social cohesion, encourage healthy lifestyles, support local community events, protect public safety, and provide a wide range of recreation facilities for residents to use and enjoy.

“This committee guides our frontline community services, caring for our vulnerable citizens, maintaining excellent social housing and promoting the importance of sport and recreation to maintain a great quality of life,” said Cr Eagle. “A key focus is to acknowledge the importance and uniqueness of our Maori connections and ethnic diversity.”

Environment

Chairperson: Iona Pannett

Portfolio Leaders: Climate Change: David Lee, Natural Environment: Helene Ritchie

Membership: Ahipene-Mercer, Foster, Free, Lee, Pannett, Ritchie, Sparrow

No surprises here. It’s a Green Party hippy love in and Pannett will be happy (despite wanting to be Deputy Mayor). Pretty sure Helene Ritchie got her role only because she’s become apart of the natural environment around Council herself.

“This committee’s job is to protect and enhance Wellington’s environment which makes it such a great place to live, work and play,” said Cr Pannett. “Enhancing our distinctive built form, supporting our superb natural environment and climate change are key priorities.”

The Environment Committee will focus on enhancing the city’s open spaces, protecting distinctive plant, bird and animal life, and ensuring there are high quality outdoor areas for residents and visitors to enjoy. The Committee will also look after water and waste services to protect the city’s environment and residents’ health.

Transport and Urban Development

Chairperson: Andy Foster

Portfolio Leaders: Buildings: Iona Pannett, Central City Projects: Nicola Young

Membership: Coughlan, Foster, Lee, Lester, Pannett, Young, Woolf

Flyover flip-flopper Foster keeps transport and Pannett keeps her buidlings role. Young will be pleased with her new responsibilities and hopefully she can implement some of her campaign ideas around city lighting, public art and other projects. I’m also hoping manages to snatch responsibility of the ridiculous Alternative Giving Campaign and sort it out.

“Urban Development is about the shape of our city, it’s the compactness and sustainable urban design, it’s what makes our city work so well,” says Cr Foster. “Whether we walk, cycle, drive or use public transport we all use the transport system, and I’m looking forward to meeting the key challenges and opportunities in this area.”

The focus of the Transport and Urban Development Committee is to direct growth to where the benefits are greatest and where adverse effects are minimised, and to deliver a quality compact urban environment.  It will also focus on providing a safe, efficient and sustainable transport system that supports Wellington’s economy and adds to residents’ quality of life.

Regulatory Processes

Chairperson: Ray Ahipene-Mercer

Membership: Ahipene-Mercer, Foster, Lee, Pannett, Sparrow

Ahipene-Mercer inherits Leonie Gill’s old position chairing the least sexy council committee.

Performance Review Committee

Chairperson: Deputy Mayor Justin Lester

Membership: Coughlan, Lester, Marsh, Peck

A small but powerful committee, the work by its members in the last term triggered the downfall of former long-term Council CEO Garry Poole. It will have its work cut out keeping tabs on new CEO Kevin Lavery.

Audit and Risk Subcommittee

Chairperson: Mark Peck

Membership: Peck, Marsh, Woolf, two external members

Peck’s experience chairing Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee should give him a solid base to go forward from.

Overall it’s a pretty unsurprising distribution, Wade-Brown could have, and should have been a bit more willing to move the likes of Coughlan. Most of the structural changes look good on paper and make sense- of course time will tell if it’s effective. Though at this stage it’s a bit difficult to work out which councillor/chair/committee is responsible to specific issues like homelessness (like Stephanie Cook was) etc. Hopefully once terms of reference are set that will get cleared up.

It will be interesting to see who gets to double dip when council appointments to external boards and trusts are announced. Will any Councillors refuse the extra money for representing the City and doing their job?

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