Think Regionally, Act Locally

Published: Mon 22 Jun 2009 05:21 PM
Think Regionally, Act Locally, Council Advises Community Groups
The North Shore City Council is doing all it can to assist local community groups to prepare for the new “super city” governance structure, says Councillor Tony Holman, Chair of the council’s Community Services and Parks Committee.
“Our community groups number in the thousands and are the lifeblood of the North Shore,” he says.
“They are mainly resourced by volunteers, and include sports clubs, environmental and arts groups and frontline support services.
“We need to ensure that these extremely valuable networks are not overlooked when a new, much larger council is put in place in only 16 months’ time.”
Councillor Holman says that many community groups are under-resourced, and the council has traditionally provided assistance such as funding, office premises or other facilities.
Much of the council support is channelled through citywide umbrella groups such as Age Concern and Harbour Sport and localised community development trusts such as the six Community Co-ordinators and North Shore's eleven community houses and centres.
In preparation for the time when they need to deal with one much larger council, many groups are further enhancing existing city-wide alliances, with the objective of having one larger representative group work with the new Auckland Council.
The North Harbour Sports Council is one such example and is a new coalition of sports codes representing club membership of 66,000 North Shore residents.
However, says Councillor Holman, there is a balancing act involved. “Our North Shore groups and organisations are looking at ways in which they can build and enhance regional networks, without sacrificing their local relationships and responsibilities.”
To assist in this challenging process, the council is working with Raeburn House to help fund and organise training and peer support sessions for community group leaders.
The council is also encouraging groups to make sure that their strategies and business plans are up to date and professionally presented to stand them in good stead with funders and new Auckland City officials.
Councillor Holman says that he is a very strong supporter of the North Shore City Council approach of supporting umbrella groups and key community organisations, which work with the many and varied community groups while enabling them to retain their autonomy.
He hopes that this grass roots approach is adopted by the new Auckland Council when it is established in October next year.
Councillor Holman says that the council is very much aware that the transition period will be a difficult time for the North Shore community, and he and his fellow Councillors are doing all they can to support and advocate for community groups during this period.
Lisa Tocker, the council’s Manager Community Liaison, says that the council's Community Liaison team is working with many groups to support strategic and business planning processes.
“North Shore is known for the quality and effectiveness of its community and volunteer sector, and we know our residents want this to remain as a foundation stone of the new city and as a means of sustaining the many excellent services, facilities and programmes that are offered.
“Great cities are defined by the great communities that support them. We have provided a list on the council website of places to go to get support or advice.
“We encourage the not-for-profit sector to let us know what impacts they face and we will do our best to ensure that as the city goes through transition, that the impacts are kept to a minimum in areas where we are able to influence the outcome.”

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