Three Palmerston North City Council projects, including the innovative Junior Road Safety Park, are finalists in the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards.
The Palmerston North Junior Road Safety Park is a finalist in the Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Engagement; the Framing the Big Picture programme features in the EXCELLENCE Award Best Practice in Governance, Leadership and Strategy category; and the Public Art Programme in the Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Best Creative Place.
Now in their fifth year, the Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country.
The community road safety project, supported by the council and local businesses, was designed to help children and migrants learn road safety in a simulated traffic environment with a ‘fun’ factor. Opened in November 2017, the park, on Victoria Esplanade, has become one of the city’s most popular play spots, with high public usage.
The Public Art Programme reflects the council’s integrated approach since 2006, to enable public art to contribute to the quality of life in Palmerston North. It has resulted in widespread accolades, with the city now promoting its status for contemporary and public art as one of its key distinctions.
Framing the Big Picture outlines the councillor-led development of a comprehensive strategic framework to inform the development of the council’s 10-year plan – providing the city with the strongest possible opportunity to build a prosperous future.
Judges praised the road safety park as an excellent example of community, commercial and council collaboration. Framing the Big Picture was hailed for its “clear vision and strategy, with measurable success indicators”, and the Public Art Programme for its “comprehensive integration of art in city planning and its public spaces, resulting in changing the perception of the city to one that supports the creative sector and improves the accessibility of art.”
LGNZ President Dave Cull says that being named as a finalist is a significant achievement and reflects strong leadership and the innovative work being delivered by councils across the country.
“The finalists include some exceptional projects that are having a profound impact on communities. The EXCELLENCE Awards finalists all demonstrate innovation, excellence in communication and consultation to involve communities in the decisions and planning which frame their future.”
The finalists incorporate best practice criteria under LGNZ’s CouncilMARK™ excellence programme which is designed to improve the public’s knowledge of the work councils are doing in their communities and to support individual councils to further improve the service and value they provide.
“Overall the judges felt that the strongest entries demonstrated a strong strategic focus, clear outcomes, measured results, cost benefit analysis and engagement with external organisations – particularly a collaborative approach with stakeholders, and meaningful engagement with iwi and Māori.“
This year saw the highest number of entries in the Awards’ history. Winners will be announced at the LGNZ conference dinner in Christchurch on 16 July.