Redland City Councillors voted to adopt a new Corporate Plan at a General Meeting on 20 May.
There was much self congratulation about the new plan, especially the mission statement:
Make a difference, make it count.
Unfortunately, it seems that submissions about the draft plan by Redlands2030 and others in the community did not make a difference and did not count.
The officers report to councillors (refer minutes Item 11.2.1) was very scanty in its discussion of the public consultation report process. It mentioned that 54 submissions were received and stated that these had been “presented to Councillors in a workshop, with various changes approved”.
This dismissive mention of public consultation about one of Council’s most important planning documents contrasts very poorly with recent detailed reporting about public consultation on local laws. The report on consultation about local laws on horse riding in parks explained in great detail which issues or concerns had been raised together with information about how many submissions supported or opposed particular issues.
The discussion by councillors and officers at the meeting on 20 May did not create an impression that councillors had great familiarity with the document they were approving and the ways in which it differs from the Corporate Plan 2010-2015.
Here is a link to a Redlands2030 video of the discussion by Council
Redlands2030 has previously published concerns that the Corporate Plan 2015-2020, is seriously deficient in not having clear and measurable targets in its post New Redland City Corporate Plan lacks focus.
Here are links to submissions about the Corporate Plan from Redlands2030 and two other community organisations:
The adoption of such a dumbed down corporate plan reflects poorly on the City’s councillors who should have questioned the Council’s officers more thoroughly. Of greater concern is that the Council’s officers, who are supposed to be professional managers, have confected a document as light as fairy floss and just as insubstantial.
The new Corporate Plan gives little more than lip service to the Redlands 2030 Community Plan, developed with widespread community input.
The presentation by Lavinia Wood (below) argued that the new Corporate Plan was flawed because it breaks the links between the Corporate Plan and the Community Plan. The Mayor commented, during the meeting that she had seen no evidence to support these claims.
It is to be hoped that Council will release a Consultation Report on the submissions it received, consider the evidence and revisit the Corporate Plan.
Opinion: Redlands2030 – 23 May 2015
Speech by Lavinia Wood to Redland City Council on 20 May
During the public participation period of the General Meeting on 20 May, Ms Lavinia Wood addressed the Council on the subject of the Corporate Plan. Redlands2030 was not allowed to video this speech but Ms Wood has kindly made the text available for publication.
Mayor Williams & Councillors
Today I speak to you as a former Senior Manager with the then Redland Shire Council.
There is a long history to the Corporate Plan that is before you today, dating back to the Council restructure of July 1999. Among other changes, this restructure created the Community Planning Division. It was a visionary and inspired change, for this Division was charged with planning for the future, across a 50 year horizon. For the first time, the short-sighted limitations of the then three year political cycles could be abandoned in favour of genuine consideration of the kind of future we wanted to create.
Councillor Alan Beard became the Chair of the Community Planning Committee. I became the Manager Social Planning within the Community Planning Division. It was an exciting time. I remember many animated discussions with Councillor Beard who was clearly inspired by the concept and responsibility of horizon planning and had stepped into the role of Chair with gusto.
Queensland’ first Community Plan was for Redlands
The single most important contribution of the Community Planning Division however, was to support the people of the Redlands to write what became the first Community Plan in Queensland. As the Manager Social Planning, it was my privilege to coordinate the work undertaken by the 28 volunteer members of the Community Reference Group, each representing a facet of community life. For four months the Community Reference Group worked through intensive reading and review assignments and testing weekly meetings focussed on learning, debate and significant soul searching. Together they hammered out a clear picture of the kind of future they wanted for the Redlands and in June 2001, the Inaugural Redland Shire Community Plan–Vision 2005 & Beyond was formally presented by the Community Reference Group to Redland Shire Council, on behalf of the people.
While Council is not the only entity responsible for delivering on the Vision, Values and Outcomes of the Community Plan, it does have the lead role. For this delivery to occur, the expectations of the community must be clearly reflected in the Corporate Plan.
I was the officer charged with the task of championing the uptake of the Community Plan in the Corporate Plan. It was a long and complex task but I was glad to do it because, after 30 years in Local Government, I had finally found the Missing Link. Instead of starting in the middle, with the Councillors and Senior Officers of the day each trying to influence policy and direction, we suddenly found ourselves starting at the pointy end, with a clear direction from the community and a road map showing us how to get there. The Corporate Ship finally had a compass. We were, at long last, hearing the voice of the people.
The end product was a Corporate Plan which clearly described how Council would honour and work to deliver on the community’s expectations. Operational Plans were drawn up in the same way, across the organisation. And importantly, the budget was structured to make sure it all happened.
For the first time, Council officers and staff had a direct line of sight from their on-ground activity up through the planning framework to one or more of the community’s goals.
The Council process of honouring the Community Plan in its Corporate Plan began in 2001 and has continued ever since.In 2010 a new Community Reference Group delivered the Redlands 2030 Community Plan. Council honoured the community’s wishes and embedded it comprehensively in the Redland City Council Corporate Plan 2010-15, developing Strategies and Performance Indicators that brought intent and accountability to a new level of sophistication.
This effort, this partnership between Council and its community, was exemplary. Redlands became the benchmark for community planning and partnership across Queensland.
But that was yesterday.
Redland’s new Corporate Plan destroys work of the last 15 years
Today, a new Corporate Plan is before you. Much has been changed and a great deal has been lost.
My purpose in speaking to you today is not to appeal for a last-minute change of heart. That appeal was made weeks ago in the form of submissions written and ignored.
No Councillors, my purpose is to ensure that each one of you is in no doubt about the consequences of adopting this new Corporate Plan and that when you raise your hand to support it, you do so knowing exactly what it is that you do.
Councillors, the new Corporate Plan before you destroys the work of the past fifteen years.
The new Plan before you breaks all meaningful links between the Redlands 2030 Community Plan and the Corporate Plan and relegates the voice of the people to a muffled whisper.
The new Plan before you returns us to the time when decisions about the community’s vision, values and priorities are made by sitting Councillors and those who influence them.
The new Plan makes it near impossible for Council to acquit itself properly to the community with respect to genuine progress toward the Community Vision and Outcomes. And perhaps most telling, it makes it near impossible for the community to hold Council to account.
What motivated you to support these changes is hard to fathom. For the moment, it matters little.
What matters is the fifteen year track record of vision, trust, honour and partnership between Council and its community.
I was there at its joyful genesis and today, I will bear witness as you bring it to an appalling end.