There are no council meetings this week, however next week Local Government New Zealand are having their AGM which has prompted me to touch on something we discussed at the last council meeting.

That is the remit process.

Remits are a way for councils to gain support from the wider council body to do a range of thing. From as high level as advocate to change legislation to requesting central government supply funding to something as small as the president of LGNZ sending a letter to an organisation stating our collective position on something.

There is a bar that a council must meet in order to submit a remit to the AGM. The remit needs to be relevant to local government as a whole. It needs to be of a major policy nature, rather than administrative. They also must be sensible, for example remits that are submitted won’t be looked at if they are already in the LGNZ work plan. They must also have some initial support; in order for remits to be heard at the AGM they must have a Zone, cluster or at least five other councils’ support.

You get the idea. Remits need to be sensible, have support, be about the whole and be focussed on policy.

We had a paper asking for our position on 12 remits at the last council meeting.

One remit is seeking support to tell the government to establish a climate change adaptation fund to improve local level and community participation in responding to climate change.

Under the Local Government Act 2002 and the Resource Management Act 1991 our council is obligated to consider the impacts of climate change and the needs of future generations. As we should, climate change is a huge issue ahead of us. However, up-front costs can be a barrier to long-term decision-making so the remit is asking central government to create a pool of funding for councils and government to share upfront costs.

When central government ramp up the compliance then part of the resourcing for meeting that ‘ramp up’ needs to come from the central pot.

We supported this remit.

Another remit is about changing legislation to enable councils to have stronger community voice in alcohol policies and to give the policy power to control the number of liquor stores in a council’s area.

The remit is asking for support from other councils to send a message to central government about two things. Amend the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 so that Local Alcohol Policies can more accurately reflect local community views and preferences. And to review policy levers it can apply to reduce alcohol-related harm that will complement Local Alcohol Policy provisions established by Territorial Local Authorities and include consideration of mechanisms for addressing the density and location of off-licensed premises.

Basically, we need to change the law to enable council’s to establish alcohol policies that have stronger community views in them and for alcohol policy changes to include the ability to control how many liquor shops are in their area.

This remit is timely considering the recent spate of off license liquor applications that were recently filed and the massive community backlash that accompanied these applications.

Gisborne District Council also supported this remit.

I’d like to see us work between now and the next AGM to see what remit we may be able to put forward to meet ours and the nations needs. Let’s put our mark on the national policy landscape.

As always, privileged to serve you Te Tairāwhiti.