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LGA 2002 Latest News

Two New Local Government Related Bills

You and Your Council - New Ways Of Getting Involved

Local Government Act 2002 - Implementation and Public Information

Local Government Act Review

Local Government Cabinet Papers

Consultation Document

Synopsis of Submissions

Local Electoral Review

Local Government Act 1974

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You and Your Council - New Ways Of Getting Involved


New Ways of Getting Involved With Your Council

*This document is in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. You need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. You can download a free version from the Adobe site.

Every day you are affected by the decisions made by your local city, district or regional council.

You and your community now have more opportunities to have your say under the Local Government Act 2002, which makes changes to the way councils have to work with their communities.

The new Act sets out a clear purpose for local government – to promote your community's social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being. This means that your council will be considering how everyone can work together to do the things that local communities think are important for their future. The Act is also about people working with councils to help them make good local decisions. Councils have to be open about what they're doing and answerable to their communities.

The Local Government Act 2002 is one of three new local government Acts – the others are the Local Electoral Act 2001 and the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002.

Opportunities To Be Involved
  • The new Community Outcomes process provides a way to have your say about what you want your community to be like in the future. The Outcomes identified by your community will be used to guide the planning done by your council and will inform central government and others about community needs. Once the Outcomes are identified, which happens at least every six years, councils will show which outcomes they can work on and how they will do that.
  • Long Term Council Community Plans (LTCCP) give a picture of all the things that a council does and how they fit together. The Plan will show why the council is doing things, what the cost will be and what will be done over the ten year period of the plan. The LTCCP is the main way you can influence what your council does. Every three years you'll have a chance to share your views on this plan. The Annual Plan process continues but focuses on year to year budgets.
  • The Council's Significance Policy indicates when an issue is very important to the council or community, and makes sure that the council thinks very carefully about how it will consult you.
  • The Annual Report tells you whether the council has done what it said it was going to do in the LTCCP and what it has spent, as well as showing if there is any progress on achieving community outcomes.
  • If you want to be more involved, you can attend council meetings, or stand for election as mayor, a councillor or community board member.

What To Expect From Your Council
  • Councils now have to provide you with an easy-to-understand summary of their proposals and plans.
  • Councils must identify who will be affected by a decision and encourage them to make their views known to the council about the decision. Councils must also give reasons for their decisions.
  • Councils must find out what all the practical options are for dealing with an issue and carefully assess them.

To ensure your views are heard you should
  • Talk to council staff or write to the council to say you're interested in contributing to the Community Outcomes and LTCCP.
  • Find out who your councillor is and explain your views.
  • Check your council's website for up-to-date information about what public consultation is going on.

Other Aspects Of The New Laws
  • Councils now have more general powers and more flexibility than they did in the past, but they are limited by the new purpose of local government, by increased transparency and accountability requirements, as well as other specific provisions in the Local Government Act (including requirements to listen to your concerns and suggestions) and other Acts.

Rates
  • Some land (eg: churches) is exempt from some rates. In addition, councils are required to prepare a policy on whether they will remit or postpone rates on categories of land, including Maori freehold land. Your council will be able to provide further information on these matters.

Representation
  • If you own a property in an area where you don't live you can still register to vote in that area's council election. Contact your council to arrange this.
  • Some councils will be using Single Transferable Voting (STV) in the 2004 elections. For more information see www.stv.govt.nz
  • To vote in a council election, you need to be either a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident and 18 years of age or older.
  • To stand for election to a council, you need to be a New Zealand citizen and 18 years of age or older.

Maori Participation in Local Government

The new Local Government Act explains that its provisions relating to Maori are there to recognise and respect the Crown's obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

The new Local Government Act clarifiies that local authorities do not have Treaty obligations under the Local Government Act (those responsibilities lie with the Crown). However councils under the Act:
  • establish and maintain opportunities for Maori to contribute to decision-making processes
  • ensure processes are in place for consulting with Maori
  • consider ways in which they can foster the development of Maori capacity to contribute to decision-making processes
  • provide relevant information to Maori.
When the council is making any important decision involving land or a body of water, they must take into account the relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral land, water, sites, waahi tapu, valued flora and fauna, and other taonga (this is similar to existing requirements on councils when taking decisions under the Resource Management Act 1991).

Councils must state in each Annual Report what they have done to involve Maori in council processes.


Opportunities for Maori
  • There are now opportunities for councils or communities to choose to have Maori wards or constituencies under the Local Electoral Act.
  • Councils can resolve to establish Maori wards or constituencies or communities can call for a poll on the issue if 5% or more of the area's electors request this. The effect of a poll (requiring 50% support) is binding for two elections and stays in place until a different poll result or decision is made.
  • This option is available for the 2007 elections for most councils.

Water
  • The Local Government Act requires councils to retain ownership of their water services. The Act also requires councils to keep control of their water assets and important issues like the price of supplying water.

Legislation review

Complaints about your council
  • If you are concerned about a council decision or the way it was made, you should talk about it first with a councillor or council staff member. If you're still not satisfied you can approach:
- Office of the Ombudsmen
www.ombudsmen.govt.nz Ph: 0800 802 602

- Office of the Auditor General www.oag.govt.nz Ph: 04 917 1500

- Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment www.pce.govt.nz Ph: 04 471 1669


Further information
If you want more information and can't find it on our website, phone the Department of Internal Affairs on 0800 257 887.

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Last updated: 24/02/2004