Faith in council well down: survey

Public confidence in the Dunedin City Council's decision-making ability has fallen sharply in the latest quality of life survey, and the proposed Awatea St stadium appears to have been a factor.

In 2006, 55% of residents either agreed or strongly agreed they had confidence that the council "makes decisions in the best interests of the city or district".

In the 2008 survey released yesterday, the figure was 46.9% - a drop of 8.1% over two years.

However, lost confidence in the council does not seem to have affected the overall quality of life for Dunedin residents.

Of 507 Dunedin people surveyed, 94.2% considered their quality of life was either good or extremely good.

The equivalent figure for 2006 was 92%.

Only those in Wellington [94.9%] believed they had it better.

Dunedin residents who considered themselves "very happy" [33.2%] were down on the 2006 survey [38%] but there was a 3.4% rise to 55.4% in those who were merely "happy".

Christchurch was the happiest place of the 12 municipalities taking part in the survey [91.2%] and Waitakere the most unhappy [87%].

The average was 90.3%.

The happiest people of all were those in households with incomes of more than $100,000.

Dunedin City Council chief executive Jim Harland, who is also the project's "sponsor", told the Otago Daily Times last night the survey was carried out in July and August last year when the impact of the recession was starting to be felt but it had not significantly altered the results.

"But if we do it in two more years, and the recession continues, it might have quite an impact on some of these [figures]," Mr Harland said.

He acknowledged the stadium debate had affected the results.

The wards with least confidence in the council were Hills [38.9%] and Cargill [45.9%], while Waikouaiti Coast-Chalmers [55.8%], Mosgiel-Taieri [50.9] and South Dunedin [50.2%] had the most confidence.

The Dunedin's council's 46.9% was better than Rodney [29.2%], Auckland [38.9%] and Christchurch [40.6%], but was behind Hamilton [57%] and Porirua [51.5%].

The main reason given by residents for their lack of confidence was "specific decisions or outcomes" on such things as stadiums and roads.

The second most important reason was "lack of public consultation/don't listen to public submissions".

Across the 12 cities, women's lack of confidence in councils was more likely to stem from lack of consultation [28.2%] compared with men [23.3%].

In Dunedin, those aged from 25 to 49 were the group keenest to have more say [46.8%] and Maori [45.3%] were the ethnic group most wanting more say.

mark.price@odt.co.nz

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