Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Easy Wins For Council To Fix Loopy Rules

The Local Government Minister released the Rules Reduction Taskforce’s “Loopy Rules Report” last week. It was a privilege to serve on the Taskforce and an even greater privilege to sit and listen to hundreds of Aucklanders and other kiwis tell their stories of good rules gone bad.

We have a Top 10 list of issues for both the Government and councils to fix. Although our suggestion to make it easier it get a building consent has grabbed most headlines, other key fixes needed are in the resource management, health & safety area.

For Auckland Council, key opportunities rest in our resource management and customer service fixes. There is no effective relationship management approach used when someone applies for a resource consent. The process is supposed to take no more than 20 working days, but the average time is more than double that.

Council needs to implement an effective end-to-end relationship management approach where an applicant is actually looked after throughout the process, just like a customer might be!

In the overall customer service area, we need a sea change. It’s ironic that the word ‘customer’ doesn’t appear at all in the description of the Local Government CEO’s role in the Local Government Act.

Councils have important responsibilities and they control a lot of rules, but that doesn’t mean they can’t treat their customers like, well, customers. In the same way the best banks and power companies do.

Auckland Council has made some good progress in parts but too much of the front-line is about what you can’t do, not what you can.

The loopy rules report says key departments should give senior managers a Customer Champion role to embed better practices, and council should establish a senior Fast Fix group to show they can fix loopy rules themselves.

I’ll be watching.

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