Dunedin People’s Advocate

I propose setting up a People’s Advocate service in Dunedin. This will substantially improve the relationship between the people of Dunedin and the City Council, and will also provide a better link between people and social services and local MPs.

It should have an office base in the city (outside the council) plus have a substantial presence online and in social media.

It’s late in the election to come up with a significant policy but it has been inspired by contact I have had with people through the campaign, building on what I have been proposing publicly. It is based on aims and wishes of myself and others that have been discussed over the past months.

I see five key areas the Dunedin People’s Advocate could work in:

  • Council – assist people dealing with the council, with queries and with problems
  • Social – assist people getting help and advice on social issues
  • Political – act as a liaison between people and the mayor and council, and also with local MPs
  • Issues – promote discussion on issues of public interest online and via public meetings
  • Lobbying – following on from discussion of issues determine public opinion (as accurately as possible) and lobby on behalf of the people of Dunedin in council and with central government.

There may be more that people want covered. This idea is open to public input and discussion. Some of these functions are already done in party by people and organisations, but I see a major benefit in having an umbrella advocacy service.

Dunedin People’s Advocate would work closely with:

  • Dunedin City Council
  • Mayor’s office and councillors
  • Dunedin based MPs
  • Social service groups
  • Organisations that do some of these things already, like the Department of Theology and Public Issues
  • Current online forums and social media

Funding

I think this should be part funded by DCC. It needn’t cost ratepayers any more, it could be funded from a reallocation of budgets. This would assist council Public Services so could come from that budget, plus a slight shift of priority from strategic planning to actually doing things that matter right now.

It would be a far more effective use of ratepayer money than other expenditure.

There could be benefits in this not being totally owned (and potentially controlled) by council, so there could be benefits in it being substantially but not totally funded by DCC. Public funds and private and business sponsorship could sought.

Staffing

This would depend on the budget but it would need at least two permanent part or full time staff. It would also work with substantial voluntary input.

It would need an office outside of council, plus mobile office facilities plus a significant online presence.

Management and Oversight

Day to day management would be by staff.

Oversight, appointments and overall management would be by a publicly elected management board.

I would like to see the mayor or a representative councillor be an honorary member of the board – contributing and liaising but without voting rights to maintain people’s power.

Bottom Line

This would provide a substantial benefit to the people of Dunedin and improve the relationship and engagement between people of the city and their council.

If elected mayor the establishment of this would be a top priority for me. If elected councillor I would also strongly promote it but it would be more difficult to achieve unless the elected mayor gave it a similar priority.

Thanks to those who have contributed their ideas to this. I welcome further input.

Pete George

Dunedin candidate – Mayor & Council
Mobile: 027 327 3468
Home: 03 471 2122
Twitter: @petedgeorge
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petedgeorge
Blog: http://yourdunedin.org/

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1 Comment

  1. Brilliant idea! I think we have this as Ratepayers Association but you take the idea further and is more independent. Really like this. Well done mate!

    Reply

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