The annual Community Satisfaction Survey shows that Bass Coast Shire Council is not a leader in community engagement. It is instead a follower, languishing in the mediocre middle.
And recent behaviour at council suggests that our councillors have no desire for it to become a leader.
Example 1: Council received 38 community submissions to its new Community Engagement policy. But council passed the policy with barely a whimper.
Apart from some brief words and excuses from Crs Rooks and Kent, the other councillors sat mute without any acknowledgement to the community’s input, suggestions, or recommendations.
To me, they resembled a group of naughty boys and girls who had been admonished by the community.
Example 2: Some weeks ago, council posted news to its website advising that Option 2 for the Inverloch shared path extension would not be proceeding as planned.
Option 2 is the community’s preferred option. This option was agreed and funded by council in 2019.
Within hours of me notifying Inverloch Community Voice of the advice, someone at council ordered that the information be pulled from its website.
Notably, the 2019 council report states “…In light of the overwhelming community support received for Option 2, officers believe that council has a clear indication of local community opinion and an identified way forward to progress design and construction of the path.”
And… last year Cr Brett Tessari stated: “The consultation showed that there was overwhelming support for Option 2 and the construction of this option will provide the best overall outcome for the community.” (Ref: ‘Surf Parade path moving ahead’, Sentinel-Times, March 3, 2020).
Several weeks ago, I wrote to each councillor and the CEO requesting answers as to why the information has been removed. I still await a response from them.
So much for community engagement from council.
Residents and ratepayers deserve much better from a council that is handsomely funded by their hard-earned money. After all, the councillors are meant to demonstrate community leadership.
Despite their newly minted engagement policy, this new councillor group is yet to demonstrate that they are willing to try harder.
Kevin Griffin, Wonthaggi.