WA changes local strategy planning

By Paul Hemsley

Introduced as part of the State Government’s Local Government Reform Plan, all WA local governments will be required to develop a Strategic Community Plan and Corporate Business Plan.

The Strategic Community Plan is designed to connect community aspirations with local government long-term strategies, while the Corporate Business Plan will link the former to council operations, financial planning, asset management and workforce planning.

Local Government Minister John Castrilli said the updated regulations set out a minimum requirement for integrated planning and reporting under the Local Government Act 1995.

“Integrated planning and reporting gives local governments a framework to address issues such as community safety, financial, human resources as well as asset and infrastructure requirements,” Mr Castrilli said.

According to Mr Castrilli, the Department of Local Government had tools and information to assist local governments with their community and financial planning, and asset management.

“Building the integrated planning capacity of local governments is of vital importance as we work together to strengthen the sector in WA,” Mr Castrilli said.

Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) Deputy President Steve Martin said the Integrated Strategic Planning legislation will have no impact on procurement in local government.

Mr Martin said the principles of the proposed amendments, as it is in keeping with actions identified in the WALGA Systemic Sustainability Study (SSS).

The Integrated Planning Framework and associated regulations will introduce to local government the requirement to develop long-term strategic plans in consultation with their communities, according to Mr Martin.

“Many Local Governments already produce this information, however some councils have not yet commenced and through our research for the SSS, it was revealed the sector believed there was a need for a framework for all councils to follow in order to allow for consistency across the sector,” Mr Martin said.

“It should be noted, however, that the report also identified a need to review the relevance and benefit of other compliance requirements to ensure Councils do not become bogged down with unnecessary reporting requirements.”

Mr Martin said the Department of Local Government has developed the framework and guidelines in consultation with sector representatives.

“It is hoped that there will be funding to assist all Local Governments to implement the integrated process,” he said.

Mr Martin said local governments develop the Strategic Community Plans in consultation with their communities, and the Corporate Business Plan is then developed taking into account the direction of the Community Strategic Plan.

Local governments will be required to develop the strategic plans by 30th June, 2013.

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