Redland City Council to study community panels

Redland City Council has ordered a report on how the power of community panels can best be harnessed to inform decision making.

At its meeting today, Council agreed to a call by Deputy Mayor Alan Beard for a report on best practices in local government world-wide on the use and application of community panels as reference, advisory and review groups.

The report, which is due to be delivered to a councillor workshop in November this year, will also provide guidance for councillors on the legal and legislative implications.

“While we already utilise reference groups in some areas, we want to see how the world’s best local government practices in the use of community panels can be applied in the Redlands on a range of issues,’’ Cr Beard said.

“Such groups can provide greater comfort to the community in the knowledge that a panel of independent and impartial residents have the opportunity to review Council decisions and provide feedback both to Council and the broader community.”

Cr Beard said today’s decision was not necessarily about setting up more community reference groups but rather how to make sure these groups supported an open and informed Council process.

“Council already has 29 community and business reference groups across a range of topics from housing to domestic violence with these groups providing plenty of expert guidance and community direction,” he said.

“The report will look at the experiences of local governments which successfully use community panels, including the financial implications and how to ensure such groups support Council’s objectives and community expectation.

“It should give us plenty of food for thought, providing valuable insight into how we can set up the right groups and apply the information they provide to help Council deliver on the expectations of the greater community.”