The Dom Post reports:
Changes to the direction of Wellington City Council’s infrastructure unit CitiOperations were never formally conveyed to councillors, an interim report has found.
The report has been described by one councillor as evidence of more than 10 years work to dismantle the unit, while keeping elected officials in the dark.
“Instead of building it up they have worked to get rid of it,” Cr Paul Eagle said yesterday.
At a special city council meeting on April 4, it was revealed staff numbers at CitiOperations had been cut from about 200 to fewer than 40.
“How did that happen? Why were our hands not on the steering wheel?” asked Mayor Celia Wade-Brown at the time.
A quote that will haunt.
In February 2001, the council passed a minute that “CitiOperations not be sold and all actions related to the process of divestment cease”.
Mr Lavery identified 15 occasions between 2001 and 2012 when briefings and workshops on CitiOperations changes were communicated to councillors.
“Briefings are not a formal record of advice or decisions, but the range of these communications clarify that any changes to the role of Citioperations were undertaken properly, and within delegations,” Ms Wade-Brown said.
“However, it is also evident that there was no time where council was formally advised that the resolutions of 2001 were no longer feasible, and to seek elected member endorsement of a new direction for service delivery.”
The report signalled a “more active role” for councillors in decision-making about the way in which council services were delivered, Ms Wade-Brown said.
Mr Lavery’s findings will be presented at a council workshop next month, with a report out later.
Mr Eagle said it was clear the 2001 edict was ignored by council officers.
“Those [councillors] who were supportive of outsourcing were kept informed, and those who were not were the ones surprised,” he said.
However, he welcomed the interim report as a move towards greater transparency under Mr Lavery.
” … at least in-house delivery options are being considered.”
A focus on how many staff work at CitiOps is the wrong focus. It may make Councillors feel good to have more staff working for the Council, but as I said yesterday the left too often focus on numbers, not outcomes.
The questions that Councillors should be asking is whether the current model is providing excellent operations at a good cost for ratepayers, and whether that model can be improved.Tags: Wellington City Council