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  • simpsonfornapier


Change in Napier City Councils modus operandi has swung significantly both ways over the last decade, from purposeful, to courageous and now timid and indecisive. A new style of Civic Leader has emerged, what are they trying to achieve and who are they looking after? So on that note why aren’t the War Memorial, Central Library, Civic Building or Aquatic Centre well progressed or complete by now? Some will roll out COVID as an excuse, but many other Cities have managed to get projects completed with central government money (look at the near completed pool at Mitre 10 Park), so why hasn't Napier?

Perhaps we don't have skilled strategic decision makers being elected to council.

How many Business people were on Council in 2010, how many are on Council now? Business people on council ensured this city was debt free up until 2019. Business people are trained decision makers. So am I, I spent 30 years learning how to manage adaptive decision making and training others in the dark art of making critical decisions on limited intelligence using good situational awareness.

Generally professional Boards manage elected change by allowing only a percentage of it’s elected positions to go to the vote at any one time. Local Government however conduct holistic elections meaning every seat including the ‘Chair’ is offered at every triennial election, providing opportunity for significant change in philosophy, skill and capability and direction immediately post-election.

After watching who changed at the table in 2013 and 2014 and again in 2016, then observing the turmoil in the 2016-19 term, I began to believe that the Council had lost its direction, the commentary didn’t reflect the long term strategy and with the prospect of further retirement of members at the 2019 election I became concerned that the remaining Council didn’t have the strategic skills or capacity to get the council back on track.

Rather than sit on the side-lines and complain or wonder why things were the way they were, I chose to act, I stood for Council and was elected. My experience and qualifications meant I easily leapfrogged long term Councillors into roles they could never fulfil. However, all the skills and ability are meaningless when those who have influence, control or power over the majority have no interest in the suggestions for change that you offer from years of experience witnessing and contributing to better outcomes in organisations that are successful.

Democracy is great when you have it!

Keeping Governance out of operations

To mitigate radical change as a consequence of the political election cycle, Government made Long Term (10 year) Plans a requirement of each local government, to ensure that the elected council was setting strategic goals and not chopping and changing already planned activities or worse pursuing pet projects for personal gain (like having their street improved out of sequence or activities that support a club that a councillor belongs to or activities that may earn them votes). Long term plans also allow the CEO to forecast what the organisation needs to deliver over time and therefore what skills and structure will be needed. Long term Plans also help the CEO keep the organisation going if a new council fell into disfunction..

It's the Long Term Plan that helps separate the elected council (governance) from attempting to influence staff delivering day to day activities (operations). The theory being if governance is focusing on Strategy their eye and thoughts are on the long term goals and community good outcomes not interfering with day-to-day outputs. I know these plans in-side-out, how? I helped write the first Napier City Council Long Term Council Community Plan and contributed to subsequent iterations with a number of councils.

If I were Mayor I would make collective Governance Led Strategy the highest priority, currently it's absent or not transparent. I would ensure all Councillors contribute and understand the purpose and objectives and are regularly discussing and reviewing implementation and future strategy.

I'll say it as I see it, your view may differ and that is ok, so lets be respectful throughout this process.

So lets be nice about it.

Regards and best wishes

Nigel Simpson , Candidate for Mayor Napier City Council Elections 2022

This blog is approved by Nigel Simpson, Napier New Zealand - website -

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