0                                           2 December 2021

HUTT CITY COUNCIL

Komiti Ratonga Rangatōpū me te Rautaki

 

Policy, Finance and Strategy Committee

 

Minutes of a meeting held in the Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, 30 Laings Road,
Lower Hutt on

 Thursday 2 December 2021 commencing at 2.00pm

 

 

PRESENT:

Cr S Edwards (Chair)

Mayor C Barry

 

Cr G Barratt

Cr J Briggs

 

Cr K Brown (Deputy Chair)

Cr B Dyer

 

Cr D Hislop

Cr C Milne

 

Cr A Mitchell

Cr N Shaw

 

Cr L Sutton

 

 

APOLOGIES:                  Deputy Mayor Lewis and Cr Rasheed

 

IN ATTENDANCE:        Ms J Miller, Chief Executive

Ms A Blackshaw, Director Neighbourhoods and Communities (part meeting)

Mr M Boggs, Director Strategy and Planning (via Zoom) (part meeting)

Ms J Livschitz, Group Chief Financial Officer

Mr B Cato, Chief Legal Officer

Ms W Moore, Head of Strategy and Planning (part meeting)

Ms C Ellis, Head of Chief Executive’s Office (part meeting)

Ms E Davids – Principal – Portfolio Performance (part meeting)

Mr D Newth, Financial Accounting Manager (part meeting)

Mr M De Boer, Principal Advisor, Strategic and Business Planning (part meeting)

Ms C Taylor, Senior Research and Evaluation Advisor (part meeting)

Ms P Rotherham, Resource Consents Team Lead (part meeting)

Ms A Dowdle, Senior Communications Advisor (part meeting)

Ms J Randall, Democracy Advisor

 

PUBLIC BUSINESS

 

1.

Opening formalities - Karakia Timatanga

Kia hora te marino

Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana

He huarahi mā tātou i te rangi nei

Aroha atu, aroha mai

Tātou i a tātou katoa

Hui e Tāiki e!

 

May peace be wide spread

May the sea be like greenstone

A pathway for us all this day

Let us show respect for each other

For one another

Bind us together!

1.       APOLOGIES

Resolved: (Cr Edwards/Cr Briggs)                                  Minute No. PFSC 21501(02)

“That the apologies received from Deputy Mayor Lewis and Cr Rasheed be accepted and leave of absence be granted.”

2.       PUBLIC COMMENT

Comments are recorded under the item to which they relate.

3.       CONFLICT OF INTEREST DECLARATIONS   

There were no conflict of interest declarations.  

4.       Recommendations to TE KAUNIHERA O TE AWA KAIRANGI Council | 16 DECEMBER 2021

a)

Hutt City Council Group Annual Report 2020/21 (21/1748)

 

 

The Principal Advisor, Strategic and Business Planning elaborated on the report.  He highlighted the updates in the Group Annual Report report included after feedback from Audit NZ.

The Chief Financial Officer advised the audit was expected to be completed shortly with no major concerns from Audit NZ.  She further advised Audit NZ had already completed the Council Controlled Organisations’ Annual Reports. She noted Council and all other Wellington Water Limited shareholding councils would be receiving a qualified audit report due to the results of two Wellington Water Limited performance measures. She explained there would be a reference to the Three Waters Reforms in Council’s audit opinion. She highlighted the final Group Annual Report might need to be deferred from the 16 December 2021 Council meeting to an additional meeting on 21 December 2021 for approval depending on when the audit opinion was received.

 

 

ReCOMMENDED: (Cr Edwards/Cr Brown)          Minute No. PFSC 21502(02)

“That the Committee recommends that Council:

(1)     endorses the adoption of the Group Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2021 (view the Group Annual Report here - https://hutt.city/draftannualreport), subject to satisfactory resolution of the following outstanding items:

(a)     completion of final design and minor editorial changes;

(b)     completion of any external audit adjustments; and

(c)      receipt of final audit clearance from Audit NZ; and

(2)     notes that the Group Annual Report and Summary will be available within one month of adoption by Council, including:

(a)     publication on Council’s website;

(b)     hard copies available in the city’s libraries, community hubs and at Council’s main administration building; and

(c)      accompanied by public notices and social media collateral.”

 

b)

Minutes of the Dangerous, Affected and Insanitary Building Policy Hearing Subcommittee - 9 November 2021 (21/2011)

 

 

ReSOLVED: (Cr Edwards/Cr Mitchell)           Minute No. PFSC 21503(02)  

“That the minutes of the meeting held on 9 November 2021, with the exception of the recommendation item be adopted.”

 

 

ReCOMMENDED: (Cr Edwards/Cr Dyer)     Minute No. PFSC 21504(02)

“That the Policy, Finance and Strategy Committee recommends Council:

(1)      adopts the proposed Dangerous, Affected and Insanitary Building Policy 2021, attached as Appendix 3 to the report, subject to the following amendments;

(a) indicate what Council will do if a building is determined to be affected or insanitary;

(b) ensure a copy of the dangerous building notice is also sent to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in the case of buildings on the Hutt City Council District Plan Heritage Schedule; and

(c) ensure that all definitions in the policy are updated to reflect the exact wording of the current legislation; and

(2) for the reasons that the Building Act 2004 requires Council to have a policy on dangerous, affected, and insanitary buildings and to review that policy every five years. Council’s current policy was agreed in December 2016, has recently been reviewed in consultation with Emergency New Zealand and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, and addresses dangerous and insanitary buildings to the extent of Council’s legal mandate.”

 

c)

Minutes of the Class 4 Gaming Venue and Board Venue Policy Hearings Subcommittee - 18 November 2021 (21/2009)

 

The Chair spoke in support of option 1: wellbeing approach – sinking lid. He noted countless sports clubs had expressed preference for an alternative method of funding to gaming machine proceeds. He considered Council needed to show leadership to reduce harm in the community. He believed the decision to adopt a sinking lid would provide the moral authority to lobby government for a community conversation on alternative funding models.

Cr Brown spoke in support of of option 1: wellbeing approach – sinking lid. She commented that it might be difficult for those community groups who received gaming proceeds to lose funding when there was no alternative to replace them. She agreed Council needed to lobby government on the matter. She recognised that Council needed to allow Naenae Bowling Club to continue to run gaming machines under the terms of its current contract.

Cr Barratt spoke in support of option 1: wellbeing approach – sinking lid. She advised she had run a foodbank for 10 years and many of those receiving help had gambling problems.

Cr Dyer spoke in support of option 1: wellbeing approach – sinking lid. He commented that the change was a positive first step and further discussion with government would be needed on how community funding could work.

Cr Mitchell spoke in support of option 1: wellbeing approach – sinking lid. He said it was important to think about where gaming proceeds came from. He highlighted the funds comprised a large amount of money from a small group of people who were mostly from the worst end of the high deprivation index. He noted gaming proceeds were unlikely to decline in the short term. He added he was proud to be part of a Council that showed moral leadership.

Cr Briggs spoke in support of option 1: wellbeing approach – sinking lid. He looked forward to receiving up to date statistics on gaming in Lower Hutt so members could get a clear picture of the problem. He expressed hope for future discussions with Local Government New Zealand. He noted funding from gaming machines would continue but that the sinking lid would eventually make Lower Hutt a better place to live.

Cr Shaw spoke in support of option 1: wellbeing approach – sinking lid. She said she recognised the level of suffering in parts of the community as a result of gaming and Council needed to pay attention to that.

The Chair thanked the Head of Strategy and Planning for the level of information and statistics that had been provided to the subcommittee. He believed the consultation process had been effective and submitters had been well informed.

 

ReSOLVED: (Cr Edwards/Cr Shaw)                 Minute No. PFSC 21505(02)

“That the minutes of the meeting held on 18 November 2021, with the exception of the recommended item be adopted.”

 

ReCOMMENDED: (BY DIVISION)(Cr Edwards/Cr Briggs) Minute No. PFSC 21506(02)

 

“That the Policy, Finance and Strategy Committee recommends that Council:

(1) adopts Option 1: Wellbeing approach – sinking lid to amend the Class 4 Gaming Venue and Board Venue Policy as attached as pages 10-14 to the minutes;

(2) agrees that there will be no new machines or venues in Council owned buildings;

(3) asks officers to gather and report data annually on the number of electronic gaming machines, the number of venues and gaming machine profits for the city and grants details;

(4) asks officers to investigate a fee that covers the cost of licensing enforcement and data gathering;

(5) asks officers to investigate long-term accommodation options that fit with the values in Council’s Class 4 Gaming Venue and Board Venue Policy;

(6) works with Local Government New Zealand around a government review of the Gambling Act 2003 and online gambling; and

(7)  for the reasons that:

(a)      the Class 4 Gaming Venue and Board Venue Policy Hearings Subcommittee (the subcommittee) has considered carefully all the evidence presented in the written and verbal submissions;

(b)      the subcommittee’s overriding priority is to reduce harm and for those reasons the Subcommittee is making the recommendations;

(c)      the subcommittee has considered and notes the submissions on a sinking lid policy and what it will mean and believes that none of the evidence suggests a sinking lid policy will bring about significant or sudden reductions in community grants; and

(d)      the subcommittee’s recommendations include an intention to gather and monitor data to assess the impact of the decisions.”

 

The motion was declared carried by division with the voting as follows:

For

 

Mayor Barry

Cr Briggs

Cr Brown

Cr Dyer

Cr Edwards

Cr Hislop

Cr Milne

Cr Mitchell

Cr Shaw

Cr Sutton

Cr Barratt

Against

Total: 11

 

 

d)

Class 4 Gambling Venue and Board Venue Policy 2021-2024 (21/2041)

 

The draft Class 4 Gambling Venue and Board Venue Policy 2021-2024 is attached to the Policy, Strategy and Finance Committee’s 4c) recommendation to Council.

 

5.

Council performance overview for the quarter ended 30 September 2021 (21/1810)

Report No. PFSC2021/5/283 by the Chief People Officer

 

The Chief Executive provided an update to the report attached as pages 15-17 to the minutes.

 

Resolved: (Cr Edwards/Cr Dyer)                                       Minute No. PFSC 21507(02)

“That the Committee notes and receives the report.”

 

 

Notice of Motion - Councillor Milne (21/2107)

Memorandum dated 29 November 2021 by the Head of Democratic Services

 

Speaking under public comment, Mr Max Shierlaw considered that if ratepayers were levied for the depreciation charged on revalued asset amounts, ratepayers could be paying up to six times the original cost of an asset over its lifetime.  He believed ratepayers needed to understand the significant difference to rates if the revalued assets value was to be credited back to ratepayers. He maintained Council officers had provided poor advice to members by advising that the purpose of depreciation was to charge those using the asset for their share of the asset.  He also believed the purpose of depreciation was to allocate the cost of the asset over its useful life. He considered academic advice would be required to justify Council’s method of depreciation.

 

In response to questions from members, Mr Shierlaw said that the method of depreciation used by the previous Council was shown by Audit NZ and Standard and Poor’s to be compliant with legislation and accounting standards. He acknowledged the New Zealand Society of Accountants Statement of Standard Practice advised when an asset was revalued the charge for depreciation should be based on the revalued amount. He said Wellington Water Limited had confirmed via an official information request that the previous Council had implemented advice from Wellington Water Limited regarding investment in three waters infrastructure.

 

The Chief Executive elaborated on the memorandum. She advised councils across New Zealand were required by legislation to comply with generally accepted accounting practice. She noted the accounting standards were International Public Sector Accounting Standards for public benefit entities. She added councils were also required to manage finances in a prudent and sensible manner and ensure compliance with balanced budget requirements.  She noted Local Government New Zealand had published guidance on a number of aspects of accounting standards and Taituarā had published guidance and had provided training for councils Long Term Plans. She said the Auditor-General also published guidance on what was good practice. She noted public sector accounting standards required Council to ensure assets were maintained at fair value. She said Council revalued its assets every three years to ensure fair value was maintained. She explained it was not possible to re-calculate the value of assets as requested in the Notice of Motion because historical values were not retained. She added if Council did recalculate using historical values, it would not be compliant with accounting standards. She did not agree that recalculating depreciation would necessarily impact rate requirements as there were broader considerations to take into account including the requirement for a balanced budget and financial prudence. She said in 2020 Standard and Poor’s had acknowledged Council’s improved approach taken to rates revenue for funding investment plans.

In response to questions from members, the Group Chief Financial Officer said officers had been unable to find reference to any previous policy on depreciating assets as stated in the Notice of Motion. She advised Standard and Poor’s and Audit NZ had both endorsed Council’s methods and had said the current practice was an improvement on previous practices. She confirmed Council’s asset renewal and investment programme would need to be cut back if depreciation was to be credited back to ratepayers. She highlighted Standard and Poor’s had supported Council’s improved Financial Strategy and commitment to funding a planned investment programme and had provided an AA credit rating despite the level of investment the city needed. She agreed Council’s current approach was more transparent than previous approaches and would ensure Council could provide services for the future. She acknowledged Council was making hard decisions so that it could maintain services and address previous under-investment.  She noted previous councils had not asked Wellington Water Limited about the level of renewals required for future resilience and this had led to under-investment in water infrastructure.

Cr Milne spoke to his Notice of Motion.  He advised he had written the Notice of Motion because he believed there was considerable contention about the basis for calculating operating balances. He had heard repeated assertions that operating deficits required large rate increases. He considered that was incorrect and that rate increases were being proposed by Council using a flawed analysis. He noted Standard and Poor’s had presented a report in 2019 that said Council had strong operating supluses. He questioned why officers were reporting an operating deficit.

 

Resolved: (Cr Edwards/Cr Dyer)                                        Minute No. PFSC 21508(02)

“That the Committee notes the Notice of Motion from Councillor Milne attached as Appendix 1 to the memorandum in the context of the additional background information provided as Appendices 2-5 attached to the memorandum.”

 

Cr Milne spoke to his Notice of Motion. He noted Council’s Long Term Plan had forecast comprehensive income of $467M in total including all cash and non-cash items. He highlighted when charging depreciation on revalued assets and the value doubles then ratepayers pay double by way of depreciation. He questioned how it made sense to exclude revaluations but include the depreciation on revalued amounts when this would not surprisingly show an operating deficit. He noted Council had changed the basis on which it was calculating operating balances and was using this as a basis to increase rates. He considered that operating balances should not justify a rates increase.

Cr Briggs raised a point of order that Standing Order 21.2 had been breached. He stated that Cr Milne could have supplied additional information in support of his Notice of Motion when he gave notice to the Chief Executive.

The Chair ruled that there had been a breach of Standing Order 21.2 as Cr Milne had spoken to the motion for more than 10 minutes.

Cr Dyer noted Council had debated the matter previously at Council meetings and had been provided information at briefings. He considered the Notice of Motion could have been refused on that basis.

Mayor Barry highlighted the Notice of Motion had made reference to a previous policy yet officers had been unable to find any record of the policy.  He stated that the lack of evidence contained in the Notice of Motion made it difficult for members to discuss the matter.

 

Moved: (Cr Milne/Cr Sutton)

That the Committee:

(1)       provides a comparison to rates requirements based on the 2021/22 budget, between charging ratepayers depreciation on the revalued asset amounts (current policy) and crediting the asset revaluation back to the ratepayers so that ratepayers are charged depreciation on original cost (previous council policy); and

 

(2)      provides either the relevant accounting standard, or an accounting academic study, that confirms the advice given by Mr Phillip Jones to the Council that: ‘The purpose of depreciation is to charge people who are using the asset their share of that asset.’

The motion was declared lost by division with the voting as follows:

For

 

Cr Milne

Cr Sutton

Cr Barratt

Against

 

Mayor Barry

Cr Briggs

Cr Brown

Cr Dyer

Cr Edwards

Cr Hislop

Cr Mitchell

Cr Shaw

Total: 3

Total: 8

 

 

6.       QUESTIONS

          There were no questions.

 

 

 

13.

Closing formalities - Karakia Whakamutunga

Whakataka te hau ki te uru

Whakataka te hau ki te tonga

Kia mākinakina ki uta

Kia mātaratara ki tai

E hī ake ana te atakura

He tio, he huka, he hau hū

Tīhei mauri ora.

Cease the winds from the west
Cease the winds from the south
Let the breeze blow over the land
Let the breeze blow over the ocean
Let the red-tipped dawn come with a sharpened air. 
A touch of frost, a promise of a glorious day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There being no further business the Chair declared the meeting closed at 3.21 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

S Edwards

MAYOR

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONFIRMED as a true and correct record

Dated this 16th day of December 2021

 


 

 

Council class 4 venue and TAB venue policy 2021

 

 


 

 

 

Division

Strategy and Planning

Date created

November 2021

Publication date

December 2021

Review period

Begin review September 2023

Owner

Wendy Moore, Divisional Manager, Strategy and Planning

Approved by

Council, December 2021

 

Version

Author

Date

Description

V 1.0

Wendy Moore 

23 November 2021

Peer review document

Final

Wendy Moore 

24 November 2021

Finalised document

Final

Wendy Moore

2 December 2021

Approved by Council

 

Contents

1....... Section A: Class 4 Venue Policy 2021. 12

1.1        POLICY.. 12

1.2        INTERPRETATION.. 12

1.5        OBJECTIVE OF THE POLICY.. 12

1.6        WHERE CLASS 4 VENUES MAY BE ESTABLISHED.. 13

1.7        NUMBERS OF GAMING MACHINES TO BE ALLOWED.. 13

1.8        RELOCATION OF EXISTING CLASS 4 VENUES AND MACHINES.. 13

1.9        PRIMARY ACTIVITY OF CLASS 4 VENUES.. 13

1.10     MERGING VENUES.. 13

2....... SECTION B: TAB VENUE POLICY. 13

2.1        POLICY.. 13

2.2        OBJECTIVES OF THE POLICY.. 13

2.3        WHERE TAB VENUE MAY BE ESTABLISHED.. 14

2.4        INCOMPATIBILITY OF TAB VENUE PREMISES.. 14

2.5        APPLICATIONS.. 14

2.6        APPLICATION FEES.. 14

 


1.        Section A: Class 4 Venue Policy 2021

1.1        POLICY

Council is adopting this policy in accordance with section 101 of the Gambling Act 2003 as the Class 4 Venue Policy 2021.

 

This policy has two main elements – it takes a wellbeing approach to minimising the regressive and inequitable social and economic harms of Class 4 gambling, particularly in high deprivation communities, and it ensures that Council is taking a leadership role, demonstrating this through its operational work and management of its own estate.

The goal is to reduce the number of gaming machines and Class 4 venues in the Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt and ensure that no additional Class 4 venues or gaming machines can be added. Class 4 venues will not be able to relocate, and no relocation consents will be issued. If a Class 4 venue is closed for over six months, it cannot be re-established as a Class 4 venue by another operator.  Over time, this approach means that the number of Class 4 venues and gaming machines may decrease.  Council will not allow any further Class 4 venues to be established in Council owned buildings/facilities. 

 

The policy does not affect existing Class 4 venues or existing gaming machines in
Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt.

 

The policy does not affect existing gambling venues or Class 4 gambling machines in
Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt.

 

1.2        INTERPRETATION

Words and phrases defined in the Gambling Act 2003 or in the Racing Industry Act 2020 which are used in this Policy have the same meanings in this Policy as they are given in those Acts.

 

1.3       COMMENCEMENT OF THE POLICY

 

This Policy will come into effect from the date Council approves the Policy.

 

1.4       TRANSITION PROVISION

 

If there are applications under the previous policy, as yet undetermined, these applications will be considered under the previous Policy according to the law as it was when the application was made.

 

1.5        OBJECTIVE OF THE POLICY

The objectives of this policy are to:

·                reduce gaming machine numbers and the number of Class 4 venues in Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt;

·                adopt public health approaches to prevent and minimise harm from Class 4 gambling, to support community problem gambling service providers, and monitor Class 4 venues;

·                provide community access to information about the funds produced and distributed from Class 4 gambling within the city; and

·                facilitate community involvement in decisions about the provision of Class 4 Gambling in Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt.

1.6        WHERE CLASS 4 VENUES MAY BE ESTABLISHED

Council will not grant consent for any new Class 4 venues to be established in the territorial authority district.

 

1.7        NUMBERS OF GAMING MACHINES TO BE ALLOWED

Council will not grant consent to any increase in the number of gaming machines in any Class 4 venue in the territorial authority district.

 

1.8        RELOCATION OF EXISTING CLASS 4 VENUES AND MACHINES

 

Class 4 Venue licences cannot be relocated to another location in Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt.

 

1.9        PRIMARY ACTIVITY OF CLASS 4 VENUES

The primary activity of any Class 4 venue shall be:

 

a)         for sporting activities, or

b)         for the sale of alcohol or for alcohol and food, or

c)         the activities as a venue owned or leased by TAB NZ or a racing club, and used mainly for racing betting, or sports betting, or as a racecourse.

 

1.10      MERGING VENUES

There will be no consents granted for Class 4 venue mergers.  

 

 

2.      SECTION B: TAB VENUE POLICY      

2.1        POLICY

 

·         This policy is a policy adopted in accordance with Section 96, Racing Industry Act 2020 as a TAB venue policy.

·         The policy covers standalone TAB venues, which are owned or leased by TAB NZ. Council consent is not required under the legislation for a TAB facility in a bar, hotel, or club.

2.2        OBJECTIVES OF THE POLICY

The objectives of this policy are to:

·         reduce gaming machine numbers and TAB NZ venues in Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt;

·         adopt public health approaches to prevent and minimise harm from gambling, to support community problem gambling service providers, and monitor TAB NZ venues;

·         provide community access to information about the funds produced and distributed from gambling within the city; and

·         facilitate community involvement in decisions about the provision of Gambling in Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt.

2.3        WHERE TAB VENUE MAY BE ESTABLISHED

 

TAB Venues may be established within the central commercial and Petone commercial activity areas; suburban commercial and special commercial zones; and general recreation activity areas and special recreation activity areas subject to:

(i)        meeting application and fee requirements;

(ii)       not being a venue at which the primary activity is a family or children's activity;

(iii)      not being adjacent or adjoining to any residential zone, school, early childhood centre, kindergarten, place of worship or other community facility; and

(iv)      not being adjacent to another TAB NZ venue i.e two TAB NZ venues may not be adjacent or adjoining

Where a TAB Venue is adjacent to or adjoining a Class 4 venue, the TAB venue is prohibited from operating gaming machines.

 

Note: “Central commercial and Petone commercial activity areas”, “suburban commercial and special commercial zones”, “general recreation activity areas and special recreation activity areas” and “residential zone or recreation zone” have the meanings and will be applied in accordance with the meanings of those terms in the Hutt City Council District Plan as operative at the time an application is considered.

 

2.4        INCOMPATIBILITY OF TAB VENUE PREMISES

 

TAB venues must not be located in premises that are incompatible with other predominant uses in a commercial or retail district.

 

2.5        APPLICATIONS

 

Applications for Council consent must be made on the approved form and must provide:

 

·         name and contact details for the application;

·         street address of premises proposed for the TAB venue licence;

·         the names of management staff; and

·         if not in the central commercial zone, evidence of the distance to the nearest residential zone, educational or religious establishment and other Class 4 gambling venues.

2.6     APPLICATION FEES

 

These will be set by the Council from time to time, and shall include consideration of:

 

(i)     the cost of processing the application, including any consultation and hearings involved;

(ii)     the cost of triennially reviewing the TAB venue policy;

(iii)    the cost of inspecting TAB venues on a regular basis to ensure compliance with consent or license conditions; and

(iv)    a contribution towards the cost of triennial assessments of the economic and social impact of gambling in the city.

 


 

 

Update by the Chief Executive

I provided a presentation to members at a briefing yesterday. This is a further update following key decisions that have been made regarding Vaccine Passes at our community-facing facilities.

COVID-19 – Vaccine Passes

I would like to start by thanking our staff for their efforts and work in helping us prepare to move to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, “the traffic light system” tomorrow, on Friday 3 December. As I have mentioned before, this is a fast-moving environment and I appreciate everyone’s understanding on this.
As our top priority is to keep our staff and community safe and to position ourselves to be able to continue to deliver services to our community, we are implementing the usage of Vaccine Passes at a number of our community-facing facilities including pools, gyms, community hubs and community libraries, museums and community pop-up spaces.
This means staff, contractors, and volunteers who work at these facilities will need to be vaccinated. Children under the age of 12 years and 3 months will still be able to enter our facilities without a Vaccine Pass as they currently cannot receive the Covid vaccination. This vaccine mandate is a significant change for us and others who need to move in this direction, but not unexpected given the new traffic light system.

Where staff are not subject to the My Vaccine Pass requirement for their work, but need to go into any of our community-facing facilities they will be required to show their pass when entering the building. I recognise that this has specific implications for staff who have exercised their choice to be unvaccinated, and will reduce some services to our residents who have exercised a similar choice. All of my decisions are grounded in caring for staff and our community, ensuring they can be protected, as far as possible from the harm COVID-19 may bring. 

On 10 December, having completed all of the risk assessments for the remainder of council roles, and come to a view about the best way to protect the remainder of our workforce and workplaces, engagement with staff will get underway with a view to decision-making early in the New Year. 
Regarding Council Chambers vaccine passes are not currently required. The usual scanning in and other health and safety practices continue to apply. We are asking all of our other staff if they would like to volunteer their vaccination status to please do so. If you would like to volunteer your vaccination status you are welcome to do so. We have an online form that we can send to you via Elected Members. Completing this form provides consent for your vaccination status to be recorded in our Vaccination Register and this would be used in future to confirm your status wherever there may be requirements
.

We know many Councils have reached a similar conclusion to us around community facilities – including Porirua and Wellington City Council.  While some Councils have reached a different view, it is ultimately up to each Council to consider guidance and make the appropriate decision.  For me, first and foremost priority is the safety of our staff and the community, and our risk assessment process supports that.

Information about our decision is published on our website today along with FAQs. We are also issuing a press release and publicising this decision through our channels.

Three Waters Reforms – Engagement Strategy update

To give effect to Council’s recent decision regarding three waters engagement, we’re progressing a plan to engage with Lower Hutt residents and businesses on the Government’s proposed reforms.

Our approach is primarily to provide our community with quality, accurate, localised information. From there, residents will be directed to either make a submission directly to select committee (with supporting information on how that process works), or to complete a survey to inform Council’s submission to the same select committee.

It’s important that the messaging around this engagement is clear – this is a decision for Parliament, not Council. We can have a say via the select committee consultation, but we have no responsibility for any decisions regarding the reforms. We want to advocate for our city’s best interests in our submission, and make sure we’re fairly representing the views of our residents.

Timing of the engagement will depend on when the Bill is introduced to Parliament – this is expected to be before 16 December. We’re currently preparing content for the website and designing the survey so that we’re able to go live as soon as possible after the Bill enters the public domain. Consultation will likely remain open until the end of January, given it will begin just before the start of the holiday period, but this will be determined in large part by the select committee consultation timeline.

Consents

We are currently still receiving a very high number of resource consent applications, which is causing delays in our processing times. Application numbers are up to 30% higher compared to previous years and have built up over the past few months.

This unfortunately means that many applications are not being processed within the statutory timeframe. The number of decisions that are over the statutory timeframe in November will be worse than the October figures. We currently have around 50 resource consent applications that have not been allocated to a processing officer, because we don’t have anyone to process them. We have 2 planner vacancies in the team. We are prioritising the vetting of applicaitons to check they have the basic information in them, very few are in a state where we can reject them under the Resource Management Act.

What are we doing?

-       We are actively recruiting for qualified planners. Recruiting experienced staff is difficult though, due to a nationwide shortage of planners.

-       Existing staff are working additional hours where they can.

-       We check with planning consultancy companies on a weekly basis to see if they have additional capacity.

-       We are in a pilot for Business Process improvement in two areas of the resource consents procedure, to ensure we have the most efficient process.

-       We are being transparent around the fact that we are are of the issue, we have a plan, and we are doing our best.

We are doing our best to keep customer informed. When the applications are acknowledged, the applicant is told that there are processing delays. Over 90% of all resource consent applications are submitted by planning and surveying consultants – they were all informed some time ago of delays.  We will be getting some new communication up on our website next week and directly advising key customers to remind them of the delays. As a result of some miscommunication between consultants and site owners, I have drafted an email to go out to consultants to say that we will be cc’ing the owners into correspondence. The communication team is also working with the planning team on reactive Q & A in case we need it in the future.