Dear Mayor, let’s have a public meeting

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.

Community consultation the Redlands way

Feeding the chooks?

The Council website gives me two options:

  1. to sign up for a kitchen table consultation;
  2. 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.

Yours sincerely

Jackie Cooper
Point Lookout

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

3 thoughts on “Dear Mayor, let’s have a public meeting

  1. I just read “6 tips for successful civic engagement” at Bang the Table website referred to by Jackie Cooper. It is patently clear that the Redlands Council has not managed to tick any one of the 6 steps for successful civic engagement. The council has failed miserably on the 6th point – “Be honest & upfront” with respect to proposed developments such as Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek. So what is in store for Straddie?

  2. this style of “consultation” is token and cynical, tailored to minimise genuine involvement by the community. It is a strictly controlled and crisis managed process (and it is just a process) of deterring genuine interaction with the community. People are not prepared to talk to a computer (considering the high proportion of over 60’s in Redlands’ this is counter intuitive) or accept the strict limitations of the push polling / survey. Council are disengaging with the local community – they don’t want to hear from you, just speak to the hand / computer. And the computer says “NO!”
    As we saw through the Toondah Harbour / Weinam Creek PDA bulldozing process, Council will go through the motions and swear black and blue they are genuinely seeking community input. That is a lie. Genuine community involvement means providing the most opportunity for all people to be involved and being able to ask questions / propose ideas of Council officers and Councillors with local knowledge (not State appointed spin doctors or external consultants who cannot be expected to know the local area). The result will be a generic, bland Planning Scheme that does not understand or respond to what Redlanders’ want or need.
    What the Council needs is an information and values – based community engagement process that genuinely involves those in the community who wish to be involved (refer Community Plan 2030)
    It would appear that Campbell Newman understands this by the recent announcement of the Queensland Plan as a “People’s Plan” that will last through successive governments as it was based on community values and aspirations, rather than short term political though bubbles. Let’s hope Council wises up soon and adopts this approach, as a politically driven and PR spun Planning Scheme will be a disaster.

  3. Jackie there was a pop up at Straddie last weekend, what’s your thoughts?….I know many would be keen to know what Straddie residents thought . My thoughts it was a token.

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