I am on record as being a critic of the way local councils often go about their business. Councils were established to provide common/shared infrastructure to support the growth of towns and cities, and to set some rules (bylaws) around the operation of infrastructure. However, many councils have claimed a greater remit over the years, with attempts to drive economic development (what do councils know about business?), sister city programmes and so forth. Yet few of these schemes have delivered much to ratepayers except cost. I have a sense that local councils have lost sight of their "core business", and that the mayor and the council (ie. the chairman and the board) have lost sight of their role in many cases.
However, things may be starting to change. The problems with the issuing of building permits and the maintenance of appropriate standards of construction provide a case in point. The Christchurch City Council lost the right to issue building permits because it was doing such a poor job. Now, the judicial system has ruled that affected parties can bring a case against Auckland City Council in respect of poor construction standards (the so-called leaky building problem). I applaud these decisions. Hopefully, they will cause Mayors and Councils to take their core roles more seriously, and hold their CEOs to account for performance more directly. That will be a good thing, for ratepayers and citizens alike.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.