The Picton Ward Forum (PWF) was initially formed to enhance consultation between Council and the Picton Ward. This was then expanded to a regional forum when the Local Government Commission combined the former Picton and Pelorus / Northern Marlborough Sounds Wards into the Marlborough Sounds Ward prior to the 2010 Local Government Elections.
Interested parties from the Picton Ward presented Council with a petition in 2006 to consider the formation of a Picton Community Board under the Local Government Act 2002. Council undertook a wide reaching consultation process on the issue and held a public hearing on the topic of the Picton Community Board in Picton. Council came to the conclusion that the majority of the community did not want a Community Board and therefore this request via a petition was declined. There were no challenges to the Local Government Commission on the decision of Council.
The Mayor was, as a result of the Community Board request, keen to engage with the Picton community and explore what improvements could be made in both communication and dialogue between Council and the Picton community.
The Picton Ward Councillors and Council staff met with a number of Picton representatives to discuss the issue and explore other avenues of communication to enhance both Council's and the Picton Community's understanding and influence on Council decisions involving Picton.
Council noted that there was a requirement if this group was to exist in the future for both financial and Council staff assistance on a variety of levels with an independent facilitator for the meetings and a secretary to take notes, organise meetings and distribute material as required. There was an expectation that a senior staff member would be available to the group for advice at each meeting and that other staff and experts would be available depending on the subject matter to be discussed.
The group were very keen to ensure that they did not delve into issues of potholes and tree removal, but look at the higher level issues of Regional Policy Statements, Long Term Plan, Picton Library, Picton Foreshore etc. The makeup of the group ensured that representatives around the table were put forward by their member organisations to have the mandate in discussing issues and presenting ideas on behalf of their member groups.
It was intended that the Picton Regional Forum would meet on a regular basis; at least once every two months but would meet more regularly if issues arose that were relevant to the Picton and wider communities and required that level of consultation and communication.
Outline of Picton Regional Forum
An overarching idea was the Forum being an opportunity for issues and ideas to be explored and actions decided. Input on future planning affecting Picton and the wider sounds communities and long term strategic planning, including wider community issues, was seen as the highest priority. Existing groups were seen as the ideal participants as they already have the mandate from their members to take on issues.
Council needed a forum to hear the input of the Picton and Sounds residents in a formal, regular way, so informed decisions can be made for these communities. There is an opportunity for these forums to be a support mechanism for all participants; Council, associations and Marlborough Sounds Ward Councillors.
The following headings outline the main areas of the Forum.
A forum for discussion and recommendations on issues and opportunities that affect Picton and the wider Sounds and its communities of interest. Influencing the best decisions for the wellbeing of these communities.
Encourage dialogue between Council and the Picton / Sounds areas on issues affecting these communities.
Encourage community consensus and understanding on issues affecting them.
Support the Marlborough Sounds Ward Councillors in representing the views of their Ward.
Assist Council in decision making for the Marlborough Sounds Ward.
The intention is for core member organisations to have regular representatives to ensure continuity. Depending on agenda topics, Councillors, Council staff and consultants would attend as required - Marlborough Sounds Ward Councillors have a role in chairing the meetings.
Items getting on the agenda will be managed - all groups and their representatives could request items to be put on the agenda (including Council) then these would need to be prioritised by the Forum. Requests for items to be considered for the agenda can be a two way process - from the group itself or from Council, Port Marlborough NZ Limited or any other source if deemed important to the community.
The agreement of future agendas would also identify any resources / inputs required from other parties to address the issues in an informed manner.
There may need to be more regular meetings as required depending on the issues to be discussed and the timeframes for responses to particular processes.
Secretarial support is seen as essential for the efficient organising of the meetings and assigning tasks from meetings, follow up, preparing information, etc.