‘There are 628 policies and bylaws in the Waikato- all looking at dealing with similar
matters including Building Regulations and Permitting, and District Plan formats. ‘We have
to develop relationships with one another and work together to standardize processes’,
Mayor Neil Sinclair of South Waikato.
Standardising bylaws and council processes in general is an attractive objective for
customer service, cost saving, and simplification although it has to be balanced with the
constraint on individual council governance. There is a natural tension between voluntarily
agreeing to standardisation versus each council going their own way.
So can a group of disparate councils- cities, towns, districts/villages- develop a
standardised policy framework? What would be the best way of working together to get
that agreement? How quickly and cost effectively can that be done?
In May 2014 the Waikato LASS and Mayoral Forum requested Craig Hobbes (CE of South
Waikato Council) to lead a Regulatory Policy and Bylaw workstream aimed at better
alignment of council policies, bylaws and other regulations. A senior manager from
Hamilton City and South Waikato District acted as facilitators working with a group of
‘champions’- a representative from each of ten council. They were able to develop an
agreed draft generic policy template for regional use, design a replicable collaboration
process for future collaborative policy development and set in place a Waikato Significance
and Engagement Policy template (to meet the requirements of the Local Government Act
Amendment) and get agreement in record time – four months. These templates will also
be made available for any other councils across the country who wish to utilize them, thus
saving them money and broadening the standardization across NZ.