Redlands 2030 encouraged participation in a “40 minute survey to assist in developing the new Redland City Corporate Plan.
However, feedback to date has been negative. The need to hold the survey, over the Christmas holiday period, was not explained. People who have attempted to complete the survey find the format and questions difficult to complete. As a community consultation exercise this should be marked “FAILED”.
Time frame should be extended
If Council wants people to make a serious effort and put some thought into its processes then it should respect the “normal” pattern of the community. The holiday period is not the right time to ask residents and ratepayers to do this survey. In fact the accepted “holiday” time extends for another week or two!
Comments received by Redlands2030 described the survey timing with adjectives like: unprofessional, ambiguous, disgraceful, shonky, annoying and distracting.
Council should have taken a lead from the Sustainable Development Act which excludes the days between 20 December & 5 January from the timeframe for any consultation about development approvals.
Social media reports indicate that at least some Councillors will be seeking an extension of time for community input to the Corporate Plan process.
Taking all these issues into account, an extension of the consultation period to at least 27 January 2015 seems reasonable.
The community input to the Corporate Plan deserves some context
The current Corporate Plan 2010-2015 was geared to deliver and support the first set of goals to the Redlands 2030 Community Plan. This Community Plan still represents the best researched view of community attitudes, goals, ambitions and values for Redland City. If any changes are contemplated, then they should be fully investigated and any adjustment made using processes and weightings similar to those used for the existing Plan.
The 2010-2015 Corporate Plan was adopted in May 2010 and as required under the Regulations the document included lists of the Performance Indicators to monitor progress in implementing the Community Plan. It was in operation for a little under 2 years with the previous Council and over 2.5 years with the current Council.
Previously Council had monitored at least some of the key indicators and reported the results in successive Annual reports. But in the most recent Annual Report reference to the Corporate Plan reporting seems to only be in the Minutes (pages 79 to 159) with the reporting of performance against the Corporate Plan separate (on pages 111 to 141). Unless the reporting is posted as a separate document on the website there seems to have been an oversight. A proper evaluation of the Corporate Plan 2010-2015 would seem a logical and reasoned source of information so respondents to the survey can make “informed” assessments of achievements to date.
Council claims “the aim of the Corporate Plan 2015-2020 will be to articulate the top issues that Council should focus on that will make a transformational change”. Given this position, it would be reasonable to expect that any community survey relating to the next Corporate Plan would use the existing Corporate Plan and its related performance as a starting point. Gathering new data on community values is only valid if the data gathering is done in a way commensurate with the data already at hand in the existing Community Plan.
References to the Corporate Plan in the Local Government Act (see sections 165 and 166) demonstrate the importance Council must place on the Corporate Plan.
The Survey questions are questioned?
Redlands 2030 raised a number of issues about the survey questions and the survey format. Some people felt their only recourse is to boycott the survey altogether. Many people, who tried to respond to the community survey, were concerned (even dismayed) at some of the questions. Comments included:
- Having done the survey I’m not impressed how can an average citizen without unfettered access, skills and time meaningfully answer some of the questions.The size and the timing is the oldest trick in the book, they are designed to get minimal response that can be spun as proof of what ever ‘they’ want.The Local Government Act and the Corporate Plan
- Why is this an on-line survey only? Not all rate payers have internet, but they are land owners and voters.
- Why is Council allowing anonymous respondents that may reside outside of the Redlands answer the fundamental question “How important is this issue to the Community?”
- I am concerned that Council appears now to be trying to reset the goals that we all believed in the 2030 Community Plan – the goals which Council were suppose to uphold, but haven’t. The latest Annual Financial Strategy no longer says anything about the Community Plan or even having to report back to the Community – that is not very transparent or accountable is it?
- This survey is of the type that companies get an external auditor to do as part of a Quality System. This one is obviously not for public comment but a management tool to assess how Council employees rate their current policies. It is an insult to Redland ratepayers to even suggest that this survey will enable them to provide valid input.
In light of such feed back it would make sense to review the survey format and questions.
People concerned about these issues should simply forward this post (click the envelope button in the above Share Bar). The button attaches the web address to this post and you add the email address of your Councillor. Sent this post to your local Councillor, seeking their support for an improved survey format and a new deadline of 27 January 2015.