New chair for Local Government Excellence Programme board

Local Government New Zealand is delighted to announce the appointment of Toby Stevenson, Director of Sapere Research Group and independent company director, as the inaugural chair of the Independent Assessment Board to oversee the new local government ratings system.

Mr Stevenson brings a wealth of experience to the role as both an independent director and an economist with 30 years’ experience in strategic risk management.

LGNZ Chief Executive Malcolm Alexander says Mr Stevenson will bring the calibre and skills needed to make the new system a success.

“We are seeking to lift and demonstrate the performance of the sector and need strong and independent people to guide the process,” Mr Alexander says.

“Toby is the ideal candidate for that and we are delighted to have him on board.”

The new ratings system will demonstrate and improve the value and services of councils by measuring indicators across leadership, finance, service delivery and community engagement.

Participating councils will be assessed by independent experts every three years, given an overall rating on a nine point scale from triple A to single C, and the results publicised. Councils will discuss results with communities and use the assessments to plan improvements.

The system is being set up to give communities a clear and independent picture of how well their council is performing in serving the community, and to give councils information on where they can improve. Twenty one councils have signed up as Foundation Councils to be the first to be assessed.

Mr Stevenson has significant experience as an independent consultant and director. He has provided independent evidence on economic benefits for resource consent applications with a number of local authorities and has given expert evidence in the Environment Court and Employment Relations Authority in New Zealand. He sat on the Ministerial Review of the Electricity Industry in 2009 that led to 29 changes to the electricity industry being passed in legislation. Mr Stevenson is also the Chairman of King Country Energy.

“This is a great programme,” Mr Stevenson says. “It is a great chance for councils to change the way they perform and change the way they are perceived. But it is better than that, it is also a chance for local authorities to change their influence over the role they play in our economy.”