Coun­cil told not to make same mis­take

Hamilton News - - Front Page -

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil has a painful history of bad de­ci­sion mak­ing, was the warn­ing from 10-year plan sub­mit­ter Judy Mcdon­ald.

Ms Mcdon­ald, who pre­sented as an in­di­vid­ual on the plan, said the fail­ings in the past had dented the pub­lic’s con­fi­dence in its elected mem­bers.

She also took aim at city coun­cil staff.

“The pre­vi­ous fail­ings do have things in com­mon — last-minute de­ci­sion mak­ing, bi­ased in­for­ma­tion and lack of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.”

“The gen­eral ten­dency is to blame the coun­cil­lors, but I think the prob­lem may lie else­where.”

She said that many of the same se­nior staff who over­saw the V8s and the Claude­lands Event Cen­tre spend­ing are still work­ing for coun­cil.

“The bu­reau­cracy they rep­re­sent are still do­ing the same thing.

“Your role surely is to be the watch­dogs and not the lap­dog of that bu­reau­cratic process”

Ms Mcdon­ald said it would be hard to ask coun­cil­lors to make sense of 300-page doc­u­ments ap­pear­ing fre­quently, with a short time to read them.

“Good luck with that. I read for a liv­ing as a proof reader and ed­i­tor and I do ap­pre­ci­ate the time in­volved try­ing to read a doc­u­ment.”

Coun­cil­lor Garry Mal­lett asked Ms Mcdon­ald if bet­ter gram­mar was needed to help make the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment more un­der­stand­able.

“No. You need to ac­tu­ally get some­one who thinks through how a ques­tion­naire can be in­ter­preted. It is a spe­cial­ist tal­ent.” She said the staff should be as­sessed on how hon­est and ef­fec­tively in­for­ma­tion is pro­vided to the coun­cil­lors and pub­lic. We need less of the ‘there is no al­ter­na­tive con­sul­ta­tion’ that we have had. I am per­son­ally tired of long-term plans that of­fer so much and pro­duce so lit­tle.”

In her sub­mis­sion, Ms Mcdon­ald said that im­prov­ing Hamil­ton’s trans­port sys­tem should be a ma­jor pri­or­ity if the city does not want to be­come a mini­auck­land.

“I, along with many other Hamil­to­ni­ans, would gladly pay the rate in­crease as­so­ci­ated with it to avoid the trauma of driv­ing to Auck­land and pay­ing for park­ing.”

She wants the city to be­come more pedes­trian-friendly.

“I am, how­ever, con­cerned that many of the projects aimed at safety im­prove­ments fo­cus al­most ex­clu­sively on cy­cling. While im­prove­ments to cy­cle safety are es­sen­tial and to be com­mended, it is well es­tab­lished that in New Zealand and world­wide, about twice as many pedes­tri­ans die on the roads as cy­clists, but there is lit­tle at­ten­tion paid — at least in terms of in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment — to the most ob­vi­ous source of pedes­trian car­nage — cross­ing the road.”

“It is vi­tal to recog­nise that one un­safe cross­ing on a jour­ney can eas­ily pre­vent peo­ple from at­tempt­ing it on foot. This isn’t just an in­con­ve­nience: it iso­lates peo­ple and makes large parts of the city in­ac­ces­si­ble to some.”

She was also con­cerned about dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the city’s bank bal­ance and rates rise.

“Be­fore de­ci­sions are made that could af­fect the qual­ity of life of res­i­dents on low or fixed in­comes, we need com­plete and open dis­cus­sions on all op­tions, not just op­tion six which was the only one de­scribed in a let­ter sent to ratepay­ers.”

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