Keep having your say
Council feedback ‘loop’ important
The council’s done the hard yards in the back rooms and they’ve put their draft Annual Plan out. We can use our knowledge and experience to give feedback to make sure our plan is a good fit for our community.
The biggest of the seven Big Issues for 2014-15 is hidden away on the back page.
National’s local government reform package aims to ‘‘make consultation requirements more flexible’’ and to ‘‘provide for a new significance and engagement policy’’.
That means councils are reviewing what communities get asked about and how communities input into the decision-making process.
The question is: Do we want them to make decisions for us or do we want them to make decisions with us?
A sound feedback loop has two parts. First ‘‘the people’’ need to have good information so they can think through the issues and make their opinions known. Then the council needs to listen and consider the ideas, adapting the plans and budget to reflect the community’s input.
Last year the timeslot for faceto-face presentations was cut in half. More ‘‘efficient’’ but less effective as it left no time for councillors to ask questions to better understand people’s points. I sat through a lot of submissions. Hardly any questions were asked. It gave the impression that the plan was a fait accompli.
The five-minute time limit and the embargo on questions didn’t apply if you were a big developer. While all residents are equal, some residents are more equal than others.
We could change that. We need to make sure this review improves the working relationship between council and community.
Have your say about the sports facility, the pool and the library. But the bottom line is whether we get to keep having a say at all.
● Sue Coutts lives in Hawea Flat, manages Wanaka Wastebusters and is interested in almost everything.