Open letter to Redland City Council about community consultation
Dear Mayor, Councillors and CEO
On Sunday 3 August at Point Lookout, the Council located a pop-up information booth for Redland City Plan 2015 and the Redland City Economic Development Strategy. I found the information on offer was perfunctory and unsatisfactory. The staff urged me to contact you with my comments. They also urged me to sign onto the Council’s website to engage in the City Plan 2015 process.
The Council website gives me two options:
- to sign up for a kitchen table consultation;
- to register for a community forum (bookings essential).
Neither of these options is appropriate. The cosy idea of a kitchen table discussion of ten locals is fraught with risk of unwanted heated exchanges among neighbours in someone’s house; perhaps few would feel comfortable attending such an event. The option to sign up for a limited community forum goes against the tenets of local democracy and community consultation. We have community halls. We should have public meetings there, moderated by an independent agent who is able to direct the conversation and ensure productive outcomes.
What about a session for North Stradbroke Island?
I am surprised that no public ‘information’ sessions or community consultations are scheduled on North Stradbroke Island. This is unacceptable. We need an island meeting, with QYAC involvement, to discuss both the City Plan and the Economic Development Strategy. North Stradbroke Island cannot be marginalised. We represent a large chunk of Redland’s tourism opportunities and economic base.
I note that the island community has already gone a considerable way forward in researching and producing ideas for an economic transition strategy away from mining. I wish this significant work to be part of the Economic Development Strategy conversation on North Stradbroke Island.
I also note that considerable community consultation over several decades on North Stradbroke Island produced numerous planning documents, including the Point Lookout DCP 3, the Reserve Management Plan and other landscaping plans. All this material needs to be acknowledged and captured in the current operation to update planning on North Stradbroke Island. The clearly stated views of the island community cannot be set aside.
Why has Council engaged Bang the Table to manage consultation?
The Redland City Plan 2015 information operation is being tightly managed by Bang the Table. I would like to sign up but I am not prepared to accept Bang the Table’s terms of reference. What are my options? Why am I being directed to a commercial third party to talk to my local council?
This is not government. It is not consultation. It is not democratic. What is it?
This ‘information’-driven exercise in community engagement/management is exactly the methodology and process that worked so woefully for Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek and left residents and ratepayers aghast at the effrontery of Council and the misinformation cynically purveyed by Council staff and executive. That process remains illegitimate and also, it must be pointed out, inefficient. Far more productive to act in partnership with the community than ignore the views and wisdom of locals.
Council must listen attentively and work with, not against, people. We are seeing what happens to governments that refuse to engage genuinely. They get voted out.
As a first fundamental step to the planning and economic conversations, please ensure that a community meeting is scheduled on North Stradbroke Island.