The Auditor General has published a report on the first round of LTP consultation documents to be produced since the legislation requiring them came into effect last year. The full report is available here http://www.oag.govt.nz/2015/ltp-consultation-documents/docs/ltp-consultation-documents.pdf
Three key themes of the Auditor-General's report are:
Some of the best consultation documents were concise. They often:
A consultation document needs to be clear about matters a local authority:
Making it easy to find the supporting information is important.
In Federated Farmers’ view, the consultation process was not improved by the need to consider multiple documents and to search for information that had previously been contained in a consistent and coherent order in the LTP.
SOLGM’s recommendation to all local authorities is to complete a full draft LTP to support the consultation document.
Innovative consultation methods - Auckland, New Plymouth and Dunedin.
In Auckland, people could make verbal or written submissions and use social media. Digital promotion included banners on websites such as MetService, TradeMe, The New Zealand Herald, and Stuff. The Council also used Facebook and Twitter to request and receive consultation.
The website also provided two tools the Audit Office considered to be particularly useful. These were a budget calculator and a rates calculator.
New Plymouth District Council launched an interactive website called MyRates. This website provided ratepayers with an innovative way to see the effect of including or excluding the main proposals on their rates. Users could then submit their preferences to elected members.
The Council also produced this video, “What has the Council ever done for us?”
This was a novel and light-hearted approach to highlighting the various services that the Council provides with ratepayer funds. The video had received more than 3300 views at the time the Audit Office wrote this report.
The Council also used social media extensively to raise public awareness of the consultation process and to encourage members of the community to have their say.
Dunedin City Council considers that changes to the Act provided it with more freedom to engage with the community and consider feedback than had previously been the case. Residents were made aware that they could provide feedback through social media, which would be provided to councillors for consideration. This was a change from the Council’s previous approach of using social media to tell the community how to provide feedback, but not actually to receive and collate feedback.
The Council also used its “People’s Panel” to provide feedback. This email-based panel includes members of the public from a range of backgrounds who provide views on topical issues that are before the Council.
The Mayor hosted two online chats during the consultation period. Interested residents were able to lodge questions or provide comments, and the Mayor then responded online. Transcripts of the chats were made available on the Council’s website.