Poor appraisal of council seen as spur to improve

More than 1200 people responded to the survey, which ran from July last year to June this year....
More than 1200 people responded to the survey, which ran from July last year to June this year. Photo: Getty Images
An unflattering judgement from Dunedin residents about their council should be read as an opportunity to do better, a city councillor says.

"I thank them for being honest, because we can’t fix things if we don’t know what’s wrong," Cr Carmen Houlahan said.

She put some of the dissatisfaction recorded in a residents survey down to "growing pains" for the city and the challenge was to take the assessment they provided and "do something" with it.

A sharp drop in the level of satisfaction with the mayor and councillors — from 40% to 25% in one year — was a key element in a survey that revealed declining satisfaction with much of the council’s work.

Elected members discussed the results at a council meeting yesterday.

More than 1200 people responded to the survey, which ran from July last year to June this year.

Cr Jules Radich said councillors had made a series of decisions that ran counter to popular opinion.

"They feel they are not being listened to."

Cr Sophie Barker said it would be helpful if the council had a means to more easily compare itself with others.

There might also be room for councillors to be more approachable, she said.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said he did not see much point in elected members defending themselves against negative feedback, "for obvious reasons".

The survey was "one data set" and the views of people aged under 18 were not canvassed.

Mr Hawkins suggested qualitative research could provide richer data and more insight into why people felt the way they did.

"There are plenty of people in the community who are proud and supportive of the direction that this council has been heading in of late."

Cr Chris Staynes said the survey reflected perceptions, and not necessarily reality.

Chief executive Sandy Graham said one effective response would be for the council to do a better job of showing people what it did.

 - grant.miller@odt.co.nz

Comments

The only "growing pains" this city has, is the poor out of touch council we have!!

If you don't have to defend against negative feedback, what do you have to defend against? And if you don't how are you meant to convince the people who oppose you?

Cr Houlahan thinks Dunedin ratepayers can be treated like fools. What a load of trite rubbish, “growing pains”. In the past Dunedin has been served by some excellent Council’s, Councillors and staff. It is only over the last four years that the city has fallen into the abyss. The people of Dunedin have been duped by the lunatic fringe who are pushing their personal agendas without a care for ratepayers and how much it costs. These sorts of politicians with their crocodile tears will become the architects of their own downfall as they ultimately destroy democracy.

Incredible. Hawkins thinks his mates like the moves he is pushing so why don't the plebs understand him. But if council does some more expensive research talking to 12 year olds he is sure he will find more supporters. Is he deluded?

And it isn't growing pains Dunedin is suffering from, it is a bunch of greens railroading the city into an unwanted future.

 

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