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"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.