Ministerial portfolios to tackle social media pressure
CABINET-STYLE portfolios may be allocated to Bayswater councillors.
As part of a suite of measures pushed by CEO Andrew Brien, the proposed two-year portfolios are aimed at ensuring councillors aren’t tripping over each other to help on populist issues while neglecting important but mundane problems.
Mr Brien’s directorate says it will cut down on disagreement, disunity and disorganisation among councillors, which has been exacerbated by residents contacting councillors through social media or making public posts to drum up support for footpath repair or street sweeping, which are normally the domain of staff.
The CEO’s directorate report says social media “places additional pressure on the time of councillors and highlights the need for early planning to ensure that councillors’ time is spent working on important, high level strategy rather than getting mired in operational issues”.
Two councillors will each be assigned to one of five portfolios, aligning with the top five directors on staff: Community, natural environment, built environment, local economy, and leadership/governance.
The mayor will have no portfolio, but can put his two-cents’ worth into whichever issue he deems necessary. He and the CEO will be responsible for allocating portfolios.
Staff were keen to bang out a framework in time for a vote at the December meeting, but councillors deferred it until they could hold a workshop early next year.
The workshop’s another measure staff are keen on, and their report says it’ll help councillors “form a high performing council, which handles disagreements and conflicts constructively, remains united even when members disagree” and “trusts each other and city officers”.
The newly minted council was split over whether to spend $20,000 on an independent facilitator to run the workshop and keep it unbiased and constructive.
Veteran councillor Barry McKenna, their longest-serving member, argued it was too much and the cost had shot up from the $15,000 fee from the last workshop they ran, but a split 5/4 vote was narrowly in favour of the spend.
by DAVID BELL