The Council has undertaken an ambitious programme of work to achieve its vision for Napier as “the best city in New Zealand”. Recent changes to the Council’s structure will help support the delivery of this vision. The relationships amongst councillors and staff are generally strong. The immediate challenge is to quickly improve systems and processes, while staff morale is high, so that the Long Term Plan can be supported.
The Council’s stated mission is aspirational: “to become the best city in New Zealand in which to live, work, raise a family and enjoy a safe and satisfying life.”
The Council has embarked on a programme to pursue this aspiration, focused on four areas: community and facilities, development and planning, events and tourism and infrastructure. These areas of focus are well documented in the Long Term Plan and supporting documents, with explicit linkages between outcomes and activities and projects.
Investing money well
The Council balances prudent cost control with sound investment in infrastructure and other opportunities with the intent to make Napier a better place to live. Its finances are in a healthy state, and the demonstrated level of the Council’s long-term thinking gives confidence that it can continue to manage its finances in a sustainable manner.
The Mayor and Chief Executive lead a very business-like approach to managing the Council’s finances.
The Council has a balanced approach to prudent cost control, investment in infrastructure and provides opportunities for additional investment. It has a clear and simple process enabling the community to comment. Napier is in a healthy financial state, and while it has to be acknowledged that it has some inherent advantages (eg a compact city and infrastructure in generally good condition), the Council demonstrates a level of long-term thinking that suggests it can manage its finances in a sustainable way for some time to come.
Delivering what’s important
Better than competent
The Council’s staff have a good understanding of their operational responsibilities. They also understand the challenges which face them and the areas for improvement. Their operational competence needs to be balanced with greater attention to issues of cost analysis, performance measurement and operational efficiency.
The prospect of amalgamation hampered development of an effective operational structure and progress on options for improving service delivery. However, with the amalgamation issue settled, the Council has started making good progress in both areas.
Listening and responding
Better than competent
The Council has some strong relationships within the community, but depends heavily on the reputation and work of the Mayor and the Chief Executive. The Council as a whole needs to develop broader and deeper relationships with its community. The documentation provided to the community for consultation and information is excellent: it is clearly expressed and well presented.
Considerable effort has been put into developing the Council’s communication resources, and the Council now has nine staff in this area.
The Significance and Engagement Policy is functionally adequate, and it outlines the matters on which the Council will consult, and its different avenues for consultation. However, the policy provides little insight into the issues the Council needs to address so that it can better engage with the community. This has been recognised, and the Council is developing a community engagement strategy that will integrate the Significance and Engagement Policy with other council processes.