Web portal puts councillors on notice

By Adam Coleman
A unique web portal specifically designed as a resource for councillors was recently unveiled to delegates at a local government conference in Sydney.

Opening the Benchmarking Best Practice in Local Government conference in Sydney last week, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Cr Geoff Lake said it was “critical that councils have in place strategies for monitoring, improving and reporting their performance”.

One such initiative from the Tweed Shire Council in NSW – a web portal specifically designed for councillors – drew considerable interest from delegates.

Coming out of administration in September last year with seven new councillors, Tweed Shire Council was presented with a unique opportunity to change the way information flow is handled.

Administrator of the portal, Tweed Shire Council’s Neil Hughes, explained that the new council created a situation of “information overload”.

“We inundate our elected people with information and we expect them to understand it in a very short timeframe,” he said.

Developed in September last year, the portal enables councillors to remotely access email, confidential reports, meeting agendas and minutes, memos and circulars, planning documents, policies as well as induction information.

“We have improved the information flow and we are trying to mitigate the paper flow. Councillors can access information when they are outside the Shire and they are still familiar with what is happening in the Shire.

“It is authenticated through a user name and password through an active directory and [Councillors] can only get to their part of the portal,” he said.

Hughes said the portal acts as a reference point for council decisions.

“We are providing the same information to each of the councillors at the same time. So there is no comeback and the Councillors cannot say I wasn’t informed. We feel that it is a real end and a positive aspect,” he said.

For a detailed look at Tweed Shire Council’s councillor web portal see the August edition of Government News.

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