Expanding Views on Local Government

James Sainsbury is a Matamata-Piako District Councillor for the Matamata Ward.

I recently had the privilege of representing our council at the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Young Elected Members (YEM) Hui in New Plymouth. The purpose of the hui was to connect and exchange ideas.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we should think about flattering:

1. New Plymouth District Council for their inner city revitalization. The redevelopment of buildings has largely been driven and funded by the private sector, but the council plays its part by, for example, making sure the footpaths outside the $600 a night hotel don't let the team down (incidentally, 2019 will see the start of scheduled refreshes of the CBD streetscapes in our three towns)

2. Auckland City Council with their strategic approach to sustainability. Sustainable initiatives are also typically sound business investments, for example the huge energy and cost savings of LED street lighting. Ring fence (at least politically) those savings as a treasure chest for the next round of sustainability investment.

3. Horowhenua District Council for ongoing dialogue about waste. There are no easy answers in this space and radical changes will likely require the resources and leadership from higher up the ladder, but focus on what can be achieved now and keep up the conversation about what new technologies can offer.

My contribution to the discussions was to present on our recently adopted Digital Strategy. The main point that I wanted to get across was that we had developed and adopted a digital strategy not to replace humans with machines, but rather to put people first. We see digital technologies and processes as a way to deal with jobs that machines can do like enter and collate data, and check out library books. This will mean that staff can be freed to do things that humans do best like interact with and assist others! I was proud to have the opportunity to communicate the huge amount of work and brain power that had been put into this piece of work by our team at MPDC.

 

Photo below: James Sainsbury at the LGNZ Young Elected Members Hui in New Plymouth - Viewing our communities from different perspectives

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