Tensions between Bay Venues Ltd and the Tauranga City council staff are thought to be a result of different management structures says a report on the council controlled organisation.
Friction between the two organisations is discussed in a consultant’s review of the council controlled organisation’s performance. The consultant’s recommendation says the council has to provide more clarity about the community outcomes it wants BVL to deliver.
Without clear directions from the council, TCC staff are in a difficult position of having to interpret council requirements, especially when negotiating the contract for supply of community services and facilities, says the consultant’s report.
The report on BVL’s performance was adopted by the city council at the city council meeting on December 19
Reasons given to the consultants for the friction include BVL staff sometimes feeling that TCC staff expectations go beyond what has been agreed with the council.
“Another reason for friction appears to be that because BVL and TCC have different management structures, there are multiple points of entry into each entity,” says the report. “In other words, a manager or senior staff member in one entity is unlikely to have a corresponding point of contact in the other entity.”
One way of handling this is to have a possible messy and complex matrix of relationships, which can result in mixed messages or inconsistent advice. Another way is to have one point of contact within one or both entities, with the points of contact taking responsibility for liaising with the appropriate parties.
This has its own issues as it relies on the key relationship personnel being able to either directly resolve or answer queries or to direct them efficiently to the right place.
Presently the council’s CCO governance relationship manager is the main point of contact, but staff interviewed for the report say there’s a need for management teams from both BVL and TCC to meet regularly, in the lead up to the Long Term Plan.
The consultant’s report finds that while there is friction at a management level, there are strong relationships between the council and the BVL board.
Relationships at the executive management level also appear to be strong. The chief executives of BVL and TCC meet regularly and BVL was complimentary about their relationship with the General Manager: City Transformation who is responsible for CCO relationships.
When a local authority has a strained relationship with a CCO often the issues are related to the attitudes and skill sets of people involved, rather than any problem with the structure or model, says the report to council, which was received with little discussion.
“The fact that there is occasional tension is not a matter for concern provided there is a mechanism to resolve any differences,” says the report. “In fact, occasional tension indicates the board is doing its jobs in pushing the boundaries of new thinking, while the council is doing its job in recognition that final accountability to the public rests with council.”
Councillors praised the report. Larry Baldock says it shows BVL has emerged from its establishment phase over the last three or four years in very good shape.
“It’s well poised to continue delivering and to add further value for residents and ratepayers of Tauranga,” says Larry.
Key achievements include a sound financial performance, solid growth in the use of venues, the opening of the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance, and growth in the number and range of events on offer in BVL venues.
“I think we can be proud of this CCO and the work that it does and delivers for the residents of the city,” says Larry. “It certainly reduces our burden upon the ratepayers and for us as elected members I’m sure it reduces the amount of contact and complaints we may have from the community, because it is doing a very good job.”