Council exploring new economic development options, following expert’s report

14/04/2016 12:00 a.m.

Ashburton District Council will investigate new ways of encouraging local economic development, following an unfavourable report on the Council's current economic development service provider Grow Mid Canterbury.

 Mr Winder of McGredy Winder was asked by the Council in late 2015 to undertake a Section 17A review* of economic development and tourism in Ashburton. The aim of the review was to examine the cost effectiveness of the Council's existing economic development and tourism services and options for the future governance, funding and delivery of the services.

 Ashburton Mayor Angus McKay said, "The findings of this review have given us confidence that our Council Controlled Organisation Experience Mid Canterbury is being well managed. However, we will be looking to improve our current mix of activities based on Mr Winder's advice."

 "Unfortunately, our concerns about the performance and value for money we receive from Grow Mid Canterbury have been confirmed," he said.

 "We appreciate the work done by the Grow Mid Canterbury voluntary trustees but the advice we have received is overwhelmingly in favour of exploring other methods of encouraging economic development in our district."

 A Council liaison group was established some time ago to work with Grow Mid Canterbury to see if improvements could be made to the value the Council and district were receiving from the organisation. At the end of the 2014/15 financial year, Council remained concerned and by the end of 2015, it had decided to stop funding Grow Mid Canterbury until it received its 2014/15 audited accounts, its six monthly report and a plan for the future.

 As of today, the Council has decided that it will pay Grow Mid Canterbury's second payment for the 2015/16 year, so that it does not disrupt the current contracted work programme. A report has been requested from Council staff on how the Council can deliver alternative economic development services from 1 July 2016.

 Mr McKay said, "The Council is committed to strong economic development in mid-Canterbury and wants to see tangible outcomes for the money it spends on behalf of its community."

*Local Government Section 17A reviews are undertaken to determine that activities are being done in a cost-effective manner for local authorities and their communities.

View the report here.

Page reviewed: 02 May 2016 9:04am