Democracy is a privilege we must protect - it gives us ordinary people the freedom to have a say in who runs our cities and country.

This week Tauranga City Council voted unanimously in favour of holding all council workshops in the open, rather than the closed briefings preferred by the previous council.

Councillor Rick Curach called it a "a victory for democracy", and that it is.

Sadly, many Kiwis have little interest in national politics and even less in local.

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Even so, it is essential that both the decisions made by our elected councillors, and the information that informs those decisions, are in the open.

It's in those early stages that issues are raised and questions are asked.

How else do you decide whether those you voted in have represented you as you hoped they would?

Residents and interested parties should be able to hear all the same information the councillors hear when making their decisions.

The discussions and questions raised by elected members give you an idea of what they stand for and whether their values align with yours.

Having these briefings in the open means the public has the chance to hear what is being considered right from the get-go, rather than only finding out when the decision is all but made.

It allows us, as residents, to make our opinions known in the early stages when councillors are still making up their minds.

And that's as it should be.

Councillors are elected to represent us - it's important we have the chance to let them know what we think about issues that will affect our city.