Council requested that a policy be developed for workshops, and that the use of live-streaming video be considered as part of that policy, at Thursday 20 September's meeting.

This followed an earlier request from the Mayor in May 2017 when she had sought direction on developing a policy from Councillors.

Council agreed that developing a policy would be of assistance for staff who administer workshop scheduling. Under the current practice it was noted that Nelson City Council workshops had been public for some years, although how they are advertised varies.

Workshops are not public meetings as defined by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (the Act). 

At the moment, the Chief Executive or a Group Manager advises the Chair whether a workshop should be open to the public, considering a range of factors including the topic and whether it was subject to negotiations, legal professional privilege, an obligation of confidence and any other relevant issues. 

The Chair then makes a decision on the status of the workshop on a case by case basis.

Research carried out by staff showed there in no standard approach to workshops around the country:

  • Thirty one council websites do not advertise workshops on their website
  • Five councils included workshops in their Schedule of Council Meetings, though four of these do so, without specifying the workshop topic
  • Fourteen councils provided materials (agenda/presentation/notes) relating to the workshop either before or after the workshop
  • One council publicly notified its workshops, included the workshop details in its Calendar of Meetings and live-streamed its LTP workshops.

Mayor Rachel Reese says, “The idea of live-streaming workshops has made us consider the wider picture around how we manage workshops. For instance, many of our public workshops are not well attended by members of the public. Is there value in publicising them more so our residents also have access to the information that guides us in the decision making process?”

“However, as per the Ombudsman’s guidance, we need to preserve the ability for free and frank discussion to take place between elected members, staff and sometimes contractors, while preserving our obligations around privacy and confidentiality.

“We want to make this work and provide value for elected members, staff and advisors, and elected members. I’m sure we a Council we are committed to increasing transparency and openness around our decision making. I look forward to seeing this progressed and will be asking for the policy to be developed and adopted as a priority,” Mayor Reese says.