Redland City Council’s next general meeting is on Wednesday 27 July.
It’s another light agenda with just four items apart from routine noting of routine reports.
Important issues such as review of the Draft City Plan continue to be dealt with by councillors and officers in non-public workshops.
Delegation to CEO of authority to award contracts
Councillors will be asked on Wednesday to delegate to the CEO the authority to award two waste management contracts:
- Collection and removal of timber and green waste estimated to cost $1,606,252 (Item 11.3.1)
- Sale of scrap metal estimated to raise $747,718 in revenue (Item 11.3.2)
In each case, the officers report says the timely resolution to delegate authority to the CEO is required to ensure continuity and maximise available time to negotiate and mobilise a new contract.
Councillors should be concerned about this request which indicates a poorly planned tender process. The community should also wonder why these major decisions are to be made in the confines of the CEO’s office instead of being the subject of a detailed officers report to a council meeting.
Sport land acquisition
Councillors will be asked to consider a report on sport land acquisition. The item (16.1.1) is to be discussed in closed session so at this point in time no information is publicly available regarding the nature of the sporting group to benefit or the land that may be acquired.
Economic Development Advisory Board report
The first meeting of the Redland City Economic Development Advisory Board (held on 23 June) has recommended that Council:
- Prioritise the development of action plans for the Health Care and Social Assistance and Education and Training sectors.
- Reviews the current and planned broadband infrastructure for the city and identifies gaps in both coverage and capacity.
- Invite School Principals to attend civic functions welcoming international delegations under the International Policy– Strategic Economic and Community Relationships
- Develop strategic relationships with top businesses in the Redlands
More details are set out in the officers report presented as item 11.2.3 of the meeting agenda.
The back story
Back in September 2013, Council staff were working on a new economic development plan prefaced on an “Open for Business” strategy direction. Right from the start it was presumed that:
The delivery of a new economic development plan for the city will be overseen by the establishment of a business roundtable/steering committee who will assist in the development and delivery of the plan and decide on the economic direction of the city through their input and advice.
Early on, two external stakeholders were identified in scope planning for the new strategy: Miguel Diaz (Redlands Institute) and Garry Hargraves (Redland City Chamber of Commerce).
In an interesting twist, Miguel Diaz quickly transitioned from being an external stakeholder to a consultant collecting more than $50,000 from the Council. Under the Local Government Act it’s a requirement that tenders be called for contracts worth more than $50,000. The manner in which this requirement was dealt with by Redland City Council is questionable.
A draft Economic Development Strategy prepared by Council, now with the involvement of consultant Miguel Diaz, was issued for public comment in July 2014. The document put forward lacked any useful elements of strategy, being focused primarily on the establishment of an advisory board. In response to comments from Redlands2030 and others that the document was not a strategy, Council did the obvious thing – they renamed it a “Framework” and adopted it on 11 February 2015.
Months passed without any Redlands economic development strategy while Council attempted to staff the Advisory Board. Initial attempts to hire board members within the Council approved budget of $30,000 per year proved fruitless. Council then decided on 29 July 2015 to give the CEO authority to determine remuneration for the Board Chair and Board members on the understanding that this would result in an unspecified increase in the annual cost of the Advisory Board. Six appointments were made between December 2015 and April 2016 providing subject matter for Council news releases.
Local jobs performance
The Draft City Plan 2015 ostensibly caters for Redland City’s population to increase by 50,000 people over the next 25 years. If developments at Toondah Harbour, Weinam Creek and Shoreline go ahead they could add another 20,000 residents. Finding local jobs for so many additional residents is likely to be a huge challenge if performance in recent years is any guide, as shown in the chart below prepared by consulting firm .id for the Redland City Economic Profile.
If the Economic Development Framework and the Economic Development Advisory Board fail to deliver meaningful plans for economic development then the Redlands will become a bigger dormitory suburb with more and more people commuting to jobs elsewhere.