From my submission on the 2007 Annual Plan & LTCCP Review…
– That GDC review it’s planning and consultation process through a survey of residents that identifies how much knowledge, interest and confidence district residents, especially Maori, young people and new immigrants, have relating to GDC planning and consultation processes.
– That GDC include a community education and civics programme designed by experts in the field of community engagement in its activities under the ‘cost of democracy’ budget line to increase awareness and understanding of obligations, mandates and responsibilities of local government.
– That GDC rename the ‘Cost of Democracy’ budget line to a more appreciative title such as ‘Commitment to Democracy’ or ‘Community Participation in Decision-Making Processes’.
– That GDC publicise the number of submissions received on the Annual Plan and the demographics of submitters with comment on the implications of these results from a local government perspective.
– That GDC provide at least two weeks notice of a date and proposed time to hear the submission from those submitters who wish to be heard – not two days as has been the case with some processes previously.
The planning and consultation processes used by GDC have limited legitimacy if they do include wide participation by all sectors of the community. Recent research by Massey University (Cheyne, 2007) demonstrates that low participation in local government planning and ‘consultation’ processes cannot be assumed to be a signal of satisfaction with the performance, direction and/or activities of the local body. It is more often a case of lack of awareness and understanding of the role and responsibilities of local government and the potential impact of local government decisions, commitments or omissions.