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Rotorua Council Dices with Community Dissatisfaction

Rotorua Council Dices with Community Dissatisfaction

25 July 2017 - The RDRR has called on Rotorua Council not to delay the release of the Community Satisfaction Survey report. The Acting CO has just announced that “the questions have been refined to meet current purposes” and that “we will analyze [the report] for our own reporting purposes and determine if we want further analysis” (RDP, 14 July, p. 5).

The CSS is a standardized survey of a stratified sample of 400 Rotorua residents about the perceived performance of the mayor, the councillors and the District Council. Last year officials withheld the report from 30 June until after the 8 October elections. Many incumbents on council suffered negative swings of between 22 and 30 per cent.

“When compared to the CSS 2014 and CSS 2015 reports, the CSS 2016 report showed that residents' approval of council decisions and actions had plummeted from 70 to 50 to 49 per cent,” said Glenys Searancke, RDRR Chair. “Residents’ ratings of the mayor and councilors’ performances as ‘very good/ fairly good’ plunged from 61 to 44 to 39 per cent. We want this year’s numbers released as soon as they are available.”

“In previous election years, the CSS reports were released to the public in late July 2007, late March 2010 and early July 2013. In the years between elections the reports were released in July or August”, said Dr Reynold Macpherson, RDRR Secretary. “The claim last year, that the delay was to conduct additional analysis to help prepare the Annual Report, was not backed up by any such analysis in the Annual Report. We believe it was to deny non-incumbent candidates access to data that could have tipped many on council out of office.”

“Manipulating the questions and paralysis by analysis frustrates residents and ratepayers who don’t see the findings as a PR problem but as indicating the need for vastly improved governance and effective performance management,” said Rosemary MacKenzie, RDRR Treasurer. “Council appears to have lost its moral compass over providing trustworthy accountability and its control over officials.”

The RDRR calls for the integrity of the CSS to be sustained, its findings to be provided by a disinterested third party without tampering, and for council to respond promptly to each of the measures of community dis/satisfaction with appropriate interventions in the public interest.


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