A quick reminder - all entries for our Leadership Scholarships and Overseas Manager Exchanges must be in no later than 11 March.

These both provide outstanding opportunities for leadership development and applications are only open for a short time each year - don't miss this year's chance to apply.

You can find all the information on this year's three Leadership Scholarships, including the Application Forms, here.

Information on applying for our four Overseas Manager Exchanges can be found here.

These are open only to SOLGM Members but you may include application to become a member with your entry. Member application information is in our website here. A reminder too that one of our Member benefits is the ability to participate in the Leadership Development Centre's programmes - these are otherwise only open to those in the Public Service. LDC are one of our Leadership Scholarship partners. Our other partners are The Skills Organisation and Opus. JLT and Civic Assurance sponsor our Overseas Manager Exchanges.

Vice-President Kevin Lavery and SOLGM staff met with the Minister of Local Government, Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga on 29 February. Being our first meeting with the Minister since his return to the local government portfolio we took the opportunity to discuss who we are and what we do.

The Minister emphasised the importance of local government demonstrating value for money in both its financial and non-financial reporting, noting that people’s real interest was in what local government is doing to improve their quality of life. The Minister is progressing with his predecessor’s package of initiatives to better enable CCOs, shared service arrangements and the like (see the so-called Fit for the Future cabinet paper released last October for more details).

In preparation for this meeting SOLGM provided the Minister with a briefing entitled Managing for Economic Growth, Transformation and Efficiency that introduces the Minister to SOLGM and sets out our views on the key issues affecting the sector. That briefing document can be downloaded here.

The six key messages from that briefing were:

1. A relationship with SOLGM has a payoff in better quality policy advice, and the implementation of your legislative and regulatory changes.

2. Local government is a key player in the achievement of economic growth, transformation and efficiency

3. Local government managers accept that transparency in performance enhances the story we tell our communities

4. Barriers to scale and acquisition of strategic capacity in service delivery should be removed

5. The costs and funding of infrastructure delivery are an ongoing concern

6. Local government in general, and practitioners in particular, want to find ways to lift the bureaucratic burden and eliminate red tape.

Upcoming SOLGM Events

Check out our Event Calendar for our upcoming learning and development events. We've recently had our Dunedin Health and Safety training and our Strategic Finance Forum sell out so I'd recommend early registration for all our upcoming events.

One 'event' that isn't in our Calendar is the webinar being run by Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW and PwC, Sydney regarding the benefits of joining the Operational and Management Effectiveness Programme. The webinar is on 10 March starting at 2pm. Please email me if you'd like to receive information on taking part in this free webinar.

The Productivity Commission is looking at ways of improving New Zealand’s urban planning system. The Government has asked the Commission to review New Zealand’s urban planning system and identify, from first principles, the most appropriate system for allocating land uses. It released an issues paper in December 2015 asking a number of questions. Submissions on the issues paper close on 9 March.

The inquiry will cover a range of issues, including how the outcomes of the current system have changed over the past 20 years, best practices in planning in New Zealand and overseas, and alternative ways of governing urban land uses, providing infrastructure and supplying public goods. The inquiry will look beyond the existing planning system and provide a framework for assessing future planning reforms.

The Commission is also holding a number of engagement meetings and developing draft findings and recommendations to be released in July 2016. The final report will be delivered to Government by 30 November 2016. Contact the Productivity Commission at info@productivity.govt.nz for more information.