The Local Government Act 2002 sets out consultation principles that local authorities must follow in certain situations (it is up to the Council to determine when it is appropriate to consult in accordance with these principles, taking into account the requirements set out in section 82 of the Act).
In brief, these principles require the Council to:
- Provide anyone who will or may be affected by, or have an interest in, the decision or matter with reasonable access to relevant information, in a manner and format appropriate to their needs and preferences
- Encourage anyone who will or may be affected by, or have an interest in, the decision or matter to present their views to the Council
- Provide those who are invited or encouraged to present their views to the Council with clear information about the purpose of the consultation and the scope of the decisions to be taken when each person's views have been considered
- Provide anyone who wants their view on the decision or matter to be considered with a reasonable opportunity to present it in a way that suits their needs or preferences
- Ensure that all views presented are received with an open mind and given due consideration when making a decision
- Provide anyone who presents their views to the Council with access to a clear record or description of relevant decisions made by the Council and explanatory material relating to the decisions (including relevant reports that were considered before the decisions were made)
The Council must also ensure it consults with Māori in a way that gives effect to these principles.
Special Consultative Procedure
Section 83 of the Local Government Act 2002 sets out the procedure that local authorities must follow when adopting or amending a Long-Term Plan or adopting, amending, or revoking a bylaw under the Local Government Act 2002 (if the bylaw concerns a matter identified in a significance and engagement policy as being of significant interest to the public or the local authority considers there is, or is likely to be, a significant impact on the public due to the proposed bylaw (or proposed changes to a bylaw).
The special consultative procedure consists of the following steps:
Step 1: Preparing a statement of proposal and summary
The Council must prepare and adopt a description of the proposed decision or course of action. If it considers it necessary to enable public understanding, the Council must also prepare and adopt a summary of the information contained in the statement of proposal.
Step 2: Make the statement of proposal publicly available
The statement of proposal (and summary) must be made as widely available to the public as is reasonably practicable. The Council must also make available a description of how and when interested persons can present their views on the proposal. The submission period must be at least one month from the date the statement of proposal is issued.
Step 3: Receiving submissions
Submitters must be given a reasonable opportunity to present their views, in a way that enables spoken (or NZ sign language) interaction between themselves and the Council. The Council may allow a person to present their views by way of audio or audio-visual link.
Other methods of consultation
The above consultation procedures are regarded as a minimum process for the above decisions. The Council can and does consult outside of these, and has a range of more and less formal processes all geared to understanding the priorities and concerns of the community.
These range from targeted, specific consultation processes, for example looking at the relatively local issue as to the preferred approach to take to reduce risks of flooding, to more open issues such as using focus groups to help to gain different perspectives on regional issues. We use many different media to give information and receive feedback, including web-based processes and the encouragement of oral submissions.
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