Major Changes on the Way
Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:32PM
Bill Barclay

The following is a TCDC press release from earlier today:

On Tuesday Councillors, Community Board Chairs and senior staff from the Thames-Coromandel District Council met to review the progress that the new Council has made in addressing its priorities and to discuss the steps needed to deliver on its new vision, mission and objectives statements.

The meeting focused on ideas to streamline Council processes to improve efficiencies and customer service, as well as projects to reduce costs while maintaining quality services at affordable rates.

Mayor Glenn Leach said of the meeting "To build a better future, it's not all about words. It's about action. And to do this, Council, staff and Community Board Chairs came together on Tuesday to build a vehicle to drive us into the future. To go forward, we all need to be on the same page; we need to go forward together and this is what was achieved."

Chief Executive, Steve Ruru, also updated the elected members on the organisational review that was announced to staff last Friday. The elected members support the need for the review and the overall objective of ensuring that the District has an organisation that is fit for purpose and able to deliver on the Council's new strategic priorities over the next ten years.

Mr. Ruru said "the organisational structure, as it stands today, was established to deal with the priorities of the Council over the last 10 years around large investment in capital projects and infrastructure. We have delivered the majority of these infrastructure projects and now the organisational focus has changed to respond to the new economic climate and opportunities presented to the District by tourism, aquaculture, treaty settlements and the review of the District Plan. It is important that Council reallocate its resources to focus on these priorities. This review is a natural process in the life cycle of the organisation to ensure we can respond effectively".

There were no external costs to Council in the facilitation of the meeting.

It seems that the that a long overdue re-organisation is at last underway. Clearly there will be jobs lost, and probably fewer new ones created if they are to carry out the intentions as outlined, though the danger remains that it may all be smoke and mirrors.

Steve Ruru is clearly on notice to come up with a sea change in the way in which TCDC delivers its services. I think he is capable of delivering on this - he was clearly frustrated with the lack of interest in structural change shown by the previous administration, and the total lack of managerial experience, or interest at the mayoral level that stymied any move in that direction over recent years.

Interesting to note the reference to there being 'no external costs in the facilitation of the meeting'. It seems that the facilitator - ex-Councillor Bob Birch, was personally hired by the Mayor - probably in order to avoid any argument over the hire. One can only applaud such devotion to the cause.

One could be forgiven for thinking that CB Chairs Bob Renton (Tairua-Pauanui) and Keith Johnston (Whangamata) may have had a hand in this re-organisation proposal. Both have commercial nous, and Renton, a history in staff reduction at Telecom. Birch may be the essential 'lightning rod' - always handy in these circumstances.

Mayor Leach has now shown that he can put his money where his mouth is, and may well be leading us in a new and desirable direction, or maybe not. It will be interesting to see how this new direction goes down amongst the rank and file, but I think that even they undertsood that the Council could not continue to drift as it has over the last six years.

Councillors need to take it very carefully, and avoid the disruption and subsequent regret that followed the last great 're-organisation' in the late 90's when both Glenn Leach and Bob Birch sat on the Council. Good experienced staff will be hard to replace if and when the economy picks up. Simply cutting for the sake of it is not good strategy.


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