Council told not to make same mistake
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.”