Community Participation in Council decision-making

​​Consultation and the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA 2002)

The LGA 2002 (sections 75 to 90) sets out consultation requirements and principles for Council to follow when making decisions.

For any decision, Council should:

  • Assess the problem or issue to be addressed, the options for addressing it, and the costs, benefits, and impacts of those options.
  • Consider the views of the community at all stages of the decision-making, particularly including persons likely to be affected by or interested in the matter, and the views of Maori (especially where land or water is affected).
  • Consult prior to making any decision or pre-determination on an option.
  • Make decisions in the interests of the community's social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being, now and in the future.
  • Provide reasons for decisions made, and identify and explain any inconsistency with other Council plans or policies.

Consultation processes

Council carries out consultation activities required under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2002.

Although consultation is not always required by law, Council's Consultation Policy advocates that the community should have meaningful input into the development, consideration and decision-making on any significant project, process or policy undertaken by Council. The consultation processes used depend on outcome sought, geographic scope, and community interest.

Methods of consultation may include:

  • written and oral submissions to proposed Council plans, policies and bylaws
  • written surveys
  • telephone surveys
  • face to face interviews
  • public meetings
  • focus groups, working panels or task groups
  • multi-stakeholder processes such as participatory appraisal
  • interactive websites.

Significance Policy

Council also has a Significance Policy, developed as a requirement of the LGA 2002.

The objective of this policy is to ensure that the community is fully consulted and can actively participate in considering issues, proposals, decisions or other matters that are significant, particularly those that involve Hamilton City Council's strategic assets.

Special Consultative Procedure

The LGA 2002 has specific procedures that Council must follow when making certain types of decision. The special consultative procedure (predominantly set out in sections 83 to 89 of the Act) is regarded as a minimum process that Council must use when making decisions that trigger particular criteria within the Act or in Council's Significance Policy. The special consultative procedure consists of the following steps:

Step 1: Prepare a statement of proposal and a summary

Council must prepare a description of the proposed decision or course of action. This should include the problem or issue the proposal intends to address and a summary of options considered. The statement must be available for distribution throughout the community and must be available for inspection at the main Council office and may be made available elsewhere e.g. community libraries. The statement of proposal must be included on an agenda for a Council meeting. Council must also prepare a full and fair summary of the proposal, which must be distributed as widely as it considers to be reasonably practicable.

Step 2: Public notice

Council must publish a notice in one or more daily newspapers, or in other newspapers of equivalent circulation, of the proposal and of the consultation being undertaken.

Step 3: Receive submissions

Council must acknowledge all written submissions and offer submitters a reasonable opportunity to make an oral submission, i.e., to speak in support of their written submission. Council must allow at least one month (from the date of the notice) for people to make written submissions.

Step 4: Deliberate in public

All meetings where Council deliberates on the proposal or hears submissions must be open to the public, unless there is some reason to exclude the public under the Local Government Official Information Meetings Act 1987. Similarly, all submissions must be made available to the public unless there is reason to withhold them under the Act.

For the planning processes involved in the development of the 10-Year Plan (previously Long Term Council Community Plan) and the Annual Plan, Council also adds the following step:

Step 5: Follow up

A copy of Council's decision and a summary of its reasons must be provided to submitters. There is no prescribed format for such a summary.

By law, Council must follow the special consultative procedure before it:
  • adopts a Long-Term Council Community Plan or Annual Plan
  • amend a Long-Term Council Community Plan
  • adopts, revokes, reviews or amends a bylaw
  • changes the way it delivers a significant activity (for example, from Council to a Council-controlled organisation or from a Council-controlled organisation to a private sector organisation) if that is not provided for in the Long-Term Council Community Plan.

Council may be required to use the special consultative procedure under other legislation, and it may choose to use the procedure in circumstances other than those outlined above.

Page reviewed: 17 Aug 2016 9:11am