Mayor’s Desk – 10 August 2017
When I first put up my hand to be elected I had someone who had long been in the game give me some advice. They advised me to never apologise as it would indicate weakness. Apparently it’s not what politicians do. I told them there and then that I wasn’t a fan of this approach and that I felt all people regardless of their positions needed to apologise when they get it wrong. If that makes me a bad politician, so be it.
There are some things in council I’m extremely proud of and there are some things that need lots of work, community consultation falls into the latter category. For all the desire we have to include community in our decision making, we haven’t done well in this space.
In my experience the best way to start afresh is to apologise and then try to rectify the situation from then on. So that is what I’m doing. To all the individuals, staff and community who feel we haven’t informed them of issues which affected them, who would have liked to have been involved in decision making or who have felt they didn’t understand the process of being heard I’m sorry. I’m sorry we haven’t got it right…yet. Consultation is hard. On what issues do we go to community and what issues do we make a decision on the facts at hand? How many people’s opinion constitutes an appropriate consultation? How do we get to the stakeholders? Do we gather in town halls, use print media, social media or hold individual onsite meetings? Who does the consultation, staff, councillors or do we employ an external consultant for transparency? Do we use the consultation to give information to the community, to receive information or is it a mixture of both?
Consultation certainly isn’t straight forward but it is something we need to develop. We are currently reviewing our own processes but I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions as to how we could improve into the future.