ChristchurchNZ (CNZ) as a PR agency for the city has performed what was required of it from Christchurch City Council (CCC). In my opinion it has not been a fully operational economic development agency for years.
Let us consider the genesis of CNZ. Every city of Christchurch’s size needs an economic development agency. We used to have a good one. It was called Canterbury Development Corporation. I served on the Board there for 15 years and can vouch for how effective it was. Some of the biggest projects which were sponsored by CCC during my time as Mayor, and that of the term of Vicki Buck, came out of CDC. Over the last few years our economic agency has languished. It was amalgamated with Canterbury Marketing and the economic development bit was moved into the back seat. The emphasis moved to being the City’s promotion and events department, as required by the CCC. They did that well. This is only part of economic development. In my opinion, a minor part.
When I was Mayor, the CDC led a considerable portion of the clever thinking of the Council. It constantly pushed us around over how to ensure that business potential in the city, and the province, was supported. How we could grow good jobs. Which industries we should be supporting, and nurturing. We defined at the Council table which industries we would focus on. CDC thought through where we should be undertaking business deals as a city around the world. I led a business/city delegation of 50 people into Wuhan (which became a Sister City) put together by CDC. The man who was the link between Wuhan and Christchurch worked for the CDC. He had been a Professor at a Wuhan university.
Our best investments as a city in my time (Pratt & Whitney Engine Centre, the investment in fibre optic company which became Enable) all came from the CDC. Where the CDC finished and Christchurch City Holdings Ltd started was hard to tell. All the agencies worked in collaboration. For some reason this has stopped. In the past few years this has been sadly missing as the Council has not had the expectations previous council’s have had of their economic development agency essentially being about “economic”.
A new CEO has been appointed to ChristchurchNZ and I wish her the best. I hope she injects “economic development” properly back into the organisation and that marketing takes a back seat. I know of a number of excellent economic development staff who have left in frustration.
It is also time for a complete review of the Board. It’s time for a change.
When the External Advisory Group considered ChristchurchNZ around April 2020 we were told by Dawn Baxendale that, as an expert in economic development, it was of utmost importance to her that the new LOE was written and approved by the Mayor and Councillors. Quickly. It took 20 months for this to occur. It’s not correct to blame elected reps for this delay. It was entirely the responsibility of the executive at CCC. This fails my test of “quick”.
Below is the CCC’s Letter of Expectation. The words in white are the new expectations. Those in the bold italic are the last ones.
I find this Letter of Expectation depressing. It’s a series of generalisations through which anybody could prove that they have complied. They are way too vague, soft, and difficult to measure. I repeat. This document is flaky, but we must get in behind the new executive.
|Acknowledgement of the crucial role CNZ plays in helping the Council deliver on its undertakings for a prosperous economy and liveable city, as well as contributing to its commitments for the sustainable use of resources, waste minimisation and reduction in carbon emissions. Always consider what is best for Christchurch when delivering services and activities.|
|Demonstrate how it intends to deliver against the Council’s strategic framework that will underpin the 2021-31 Long Term Plan where possible, and where it is in the best interests of the Group. Vibrancy of the city and increasing momentum towards achieving that is a top priority. Always consider what is best for Christchurch when delivering its services and activities.|
|Meeting the short term challenges facing Christchurch, including the economic and social recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and responsiveness to ongoing uncertainties it continues to create.|
|Focus on recovery and working closely with members of the Council family of entities to ensure strong strategic alignment across the group in managing the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. Prioritise activities that will underpin an optimal recovery over the short, medium and longer terms. Meet any obligations acquired through the Ōtautahi Christchurch Economic Recovery Plan.|
|The Council expects that CNZHL will work with its urban regeneration team to jointly create a prioritised pipeline of urban development work for CNZ, and to minimise the risk of duplication and achieve optimal integration between the activities of the two organisations. The Council expects CNZHL to (as per the LTP): |
· identify, investigate and secure agreements for land that provide redevelopment opportunities; · undertake feasibility studies, due diligence, market research, business cases, risk analysis and contract preparation;
· encourage economic development through facilitation of urban development and placemaking activities; and
· facilitate redevelopment in priority locations and strategically create value from land assets utilising Council family-owned property or other acquired property.
|Work with Council staff to prioritise target areas, reducing duplication (if any) and leveraging funding for urban development. Establishing an urban development function is high priority. Seek the best development and commercialisation options for Council property in New Brighton, Milton St and Peterborough St. Develop a pipeline of projects utilising Council property or other acquired property (using a consistent evidence base such as the regeneration heat map) with final approval by the Council for any committed projects. Regular and ongoing engagement as the pipeline develops. Close co-ordination on land options with the Council and CCHL will also be required.|
|Greater Christchurch 2050:|
|Demonstrate leadership in meeting GC2050 expectations and seek buy-in from key stakeholders. Review economic development, City Narrative and City Placebrand strategies to ensure consistency with GC2050.|
|Support implementation of GC 2050.|
|Review activities and provide a verified (not certified) greenhouse gas emission footprint, a greenhouse gas emission, energy, solid waste and water management plan and advice as to how it will achieve the target by 2030.|
|Continue to develop planning, decision-making and reporting frameworks for identifying and addressing climate change impacts and to manage risks and build long term resilience with clear targets set.|
|CMUA: (nothing in the prior year’s LOE)|
|The Council expects CNZHL to work with the Council and Venues Ōtautahi to attract content for the CMUA venue and to promote CMUA as a key anchor asset for the city.|
|Value for money:|
|Develop and show leadership in innovative practices.|
|Continue to identify opportunities for generating efficiencies especially if and when new functions and funding are provided for economic and urban development activities that have linkages and/or synergies with the activities delivered by other members of the Council family. Return any Council funding that may be available as a result of higher levels of third party revenue that is not tagged to specific expenditure. Develop and show leadership in innovative practices.|
|Antarctic Office (same content in both LOEs):|
|Maintain investment in accordance with the Council’s tagged funding, maintain strong relationships with the Council’s Civic and International Relations group and achieve the Antarctic Gateway Strategy goals in the most effective and efficient ways.|
|Board to consider if it needs additional skills and competencies given CNZHL’s expanded mandate. Work with Christchurch City Holdings Ltd to complete this work and to ensure that diversity on the board is taken into account. Remunerate directors on a fair and reasonable basis which takes into account the public service nature of the positions.|
|Remunerate directors on a fair and reasonable basis which takes into account the public service nature of the positions.|
|Consider including graphical trend analysis of key drivers of performance and benchmarking. Increased focus on financial reporting given its substantial increase in funding. Transparency about returns on Council investment in CNZHL and to socialise the measurement framework with the Council.|
|Reporting to include progress in achieving measurable targets set in the Ōtautahi Christchurch Economic Recovery Plan. Levels of service targets are to be outcome oriented, aligned with the Prosperity Framework and have been endorsed by the Council. Benchmarking to demonstrate the expected value of investment propositions. Transparency about returns on investment in activities and services that are undertaken to build the economic performance of Christchurch.|
|Remuneration (same content in both LOEs):|
|Exercise restraint in the level of senior executive total remuneration. Pay staff living wage and assess the potential cost of implementing to suppliers.|
|Work closely with members of the Council’s wider group and the Crown|
|Work closely with members of the Council family of entities (including CCHL, VŌ and Council staff and elected members) to avoid duplication, leverage current levels of investment and problem solve.|