Or­di­nary in­flu­ence

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS - By Cr NEVILLE GIMBLETT

Since I last wrote in this col­umn I have ob­served the huge in­flu­ence that “or­di­nary” mem­bers of the com­mu­nity have on coun­cil de­ci­sion-mak­ing when they en­gage, ei­ther for­mally or in­for­mally, with coun­cil in a pos­i­tive and re­spect­ful man­ner and with a well-rea­soned ar­gu­ment. An in­di­vid­ual or group can cre­ate change at least as great as can any in­di­vid­ual coun­cil­lor, pro­vided they demon­strate com­mu­nity sup­port and rea­soned ar­gu­ment.

Over the last few months I have had the priv­i­lege of hear­ing from com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions from all over our dis­trict through our LTP process. I have had the op­por­tu­nity of talk­ing to in­di­vid­u­als at the Levin Town Cen­tre con­sul­ta­tion days. I have had the thrill of see­ing a Pro­gres­sive As­so­ci­a­tion set up in Fox­ton Beach. And I have shared the re­spon­si­bil­ity of de­cid­ing on coun­cil’s re­sponse to Pri­or­ity Build­ings un­der the earth­quake­prone build­ings leg­is­la­tion.

All of these re­sulted in the “or­di­nary” per­son in­flu­enc­ing coun­cil de­ci­sion-mak­ing, fre­quently cre­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes to coun­cil’s draft de­ci­sions. In some cases coun­cil has been able to make a clear-cut de­ci­sion ap­prov­ing what was asked for. In oth­ers the de­ci­sion was de­ferred pend­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion. And a third op­tion in­volves work­ing to­wards de­ci­sions jointly with the com­mu­nity in­volved. Un­for­tu­nately the over-rid­ing me­dia mes­sage about our coun­cil for the last two years has been one of divi­sion. It would seem the “or­di­nary” per­son does not count. But de­spite this, the com­mu­nity has stood up and spo­ken out, en­gag­ing pos­i­tively with coun­cil, of­ten un­re­ported, for what they be­lieve in. They are be­ing lis­tened to and their re­quests are be­ing acted on to cre­ate the com­mu­nity people are ask­ing for.

Re­cently Horowhenua hosted Jim Diers, an in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised au­thor­ity on com­mu­nity-led de­vel­op­ment, to hear his story about em­pow­er­ing the com­mu­nity to iden­tify prob­lems and cre­ate so­lu­tions. His mes­sage is the com­mu­nity has the wis­dom to de­cide what the com­mu­nity should look like.

Over the last two years I have seen this demon­strated with the trans­for­ma­tion of Fox­ton and Fox­ton Beach as a re­sult of com­mu­nity in­put through ear­lier years. Projects com­pleted are too nu­mer­ous to list here and there is a re­newed in­ter­est in the com­mu­nity as a part­ner in fu­ture de­vel­op­ments.

I am con­fi­dent that the res­i­dents of Horowhenua will con­tinue to lead de­vel­op­ment of the com­mu­nity they wish to live in.

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