LGNZ President Dave Cull is praising the swift reaction of local communities and councils to the COVID-19 epidemic, citing rapid, high-trust decision-making from elected members and council staff to ensure essential services are secured, and that our most vulnerable people are supported.
“The way councils and many communities have pulled together in response to this epidemic has been extremely heartening, it really does show the power of agile, high-trust decision-making at a local level.”
“Our primary focus has been ensuring that we, as local government, continue to provide those lifeline services that the public rely on in their day-to-day lives, and especially in a crisis. We want to reassure New Zealanders that we are here for them when they need us most, and we’re working collaboratively to ensure that no community is left behind.”
“We have also been working in lock-step with Government agencies and communities on a huge range of emerging issues, from facility closures, to putting more rigorous cleaning processes in place, and what they expect as far as communication, particularly on social media.”
“It is particularly gratifying to see how New Zealanders are pulling together in a time of crisis. There is a lot of uncertainty, and elected members, as the representatives of their communities, have been great at sharing information, raising community issues and finding local solutions.”
“Obviously there will be major social, health and economic effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, but our essential staff and elected members are working hard behind the scenes to keep a range of services running to meet the expectations of the community.”
“Over the next four weeks local community reps will continue to offer support, service and korero, particularly through their online channels, and I thank them for this. Equally, please give them your support, as they’ve got a considerable amount on their shoulders.”
The Local and Central Government COVID-19 response team, led by the Department of Internal Affairs and including the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM), NEMA and LGNZ are also addressing specific topics that councils are grappling with, whether governance, finance and recovery, social wellbeing or council project management and coordination.
“The Response Unit is communicating directly with councils so they have one source of truth, and that gives them the confidence to make well-informed and coordinated decisions over the coming months. Behind the scenes they’re clearing the business-as-usual rules that can become massive hurdles in a crisis, so that councils can get on with the job they have to do.”
“The team are developing frameworks that councils can lean on, providing best practice around delivery and decision-making, while ensuring the safety of both their staff and their communities.”
“We are also working with the response unit and other agencies to develop funding and financing options that have the ability to reduce the current rates burden on communities, while maintaining essential investment in infrastructure development.”
“The diversity of our communities’ means different councils have different needs, and right now we are working with them to address the varying issues they’re hearing from their people.”