Council’s consultation below average

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KINGSTON Council’s overall performance is above average, but their engagement with the community needs work according to the results of the Community Satisfaction Survey coordinated by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Council’s performance was evaluated by 400 randomly chosen ratepayers for the survey. Councils are awarded “index scores” for their performance in different areas. Kingston Council’s index score for overall performance was 64, up from the state average of 60 and unchanged from their result last year.

The mayor Georgina Oxley said “Kingston strives to deliver great services, value for money and the survey shows people appreciate this with our overall score remaining stable and above the state average.”

Areas identified by council as being “important” and needing improvement were planning for population growth, parking facilities, and decisions made in the interest of the community.

Council has come under fire in the last year for their consultation with Beach Road residents about plans to plant trees along the road. That issue came to a head when councillors voted on 29 January to “refer the [Bay Trail] matter to the Independent Broad Based Anti Corruption Commission and ask them to undertake an investigation into whether any improper or illegal actions by any participants may have influenced the outcome in this matter.” That decision was rescinded in a second vote two weeks afterward.

As part of the survey, ratepayers were asked how council performed in last 12 months on “community consultation and engagement”. Kingston Council received a score of 54 in this area, below the state average, and a sharp drop from their results in the last two years. The result was a 6 point drop from their 2017 score, and a one point drop from last year. 6 per cent of respondents said consultation undertaken by Kingston Council was “very good”, a 3 per cent drop from last year.

Another issue which has pressed council lately is their draft housing strategy and neighbourhood character study, which is out to consultation until 2 August. Cr Rosemary West said at Kingston’s 24 June meeting that proposed changes to the housing strategy featured “radical increase in development and density.” The mayor Georgina Oxley said the proposed changes were to help “to meet demand.”

Council received a score of 51 in the area of “planning for population growth”, just below the statewide average for 2019. 

Cr Oxley said “the areas we showed most improvement in were the appearance of public areas, planning and building permits, council’s general town planning policy and decisions made in the interest of the community. All these areas jumped three to four points since last year’s survey which was great to see.”

“74 per cent of residents believe council is heading in the right direction, up from 66 per cent last year. When compared to the previous year, over 60 per cent of service area scores have either improved or remained stable. While there’s plenty to celebrate, we are also keen to hear from the community about areas for ongoing improvement,” she said.

The survey was conducted by independent group JWS Research in February this year, and councils were informed of the results in June. It was participated in by 63 councils statewide.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 17 July 2019

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