Praise for Venture Southland deal

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 12/06/2014

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Invercargill's ratepayers will be able to make sure their pennies count when they are funnelled into Venture Southland under a new regime.

The new Venture Southland Agreement, which was adopted by the city council this week, was heralded by councillors as a great way to track the funding given to the organisation.

The agreement changes the way projects are funded and how they are measured.

Speaking after the meeting, finance and policy committee chairman Neil Boniface said the agreement gave the council more authority to decide where its money was channelled.

"We will dictate to them what we want the money spent on ... they have got to do what we ask of them, less discretion to them and more power to us."

Boniface said the council funding could be used for specific Invercargill projects instead of projects which might benefit other council areas.

"We can really dictate the focus and emphasis."

Councillor Karen Arnold praised the new transparency because she had always questioned if the council was getting bang for its buck.

"The onus will now be on Venture to deliver something measurable. Part of the concern has been they do stuff but then don't measure the outcome of what they have done."

But Arnold said the change would have to come with a culture change within the organisation. "It's a good start, I think it will be difficult for them culturally to make this transformation.

"I am so desperate that we have some definite goals and definite outcomes ... otherwise we are just going to put money down the drain again," she said during the meeting.

Venture Southland council representative Ian Pottinger said the council had not been giving Venture Southland a free ride.

The council had failed to provide enough direction and the new agreement would benefit Venture and the council, he said.

"They have been left on their own a bit, we have been guilty of not being more prescriptive ... it needs a bit more team work between both."

At the beginning of October each year Venture Southland will be required to consult with the three councils in the region as part of the agreement.

Invercargill City Council strategy and policy manager Melissa Short said in the council meeting this week the agreement would "make sure we know what we are purchasing when we are giving funds to Venture Southland for their activities".

The agreement would allow the council to indicate early the type of projects they wanted Venture to do and they would be able to give an indication of cost before the groups agreed, Ms Short said after the meeting.

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"It's better transparency between the three councils and Venture Southland."

- The Southland Times

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