Very few Auckland Plan submissions – bad timing, says councillor

Press Release – Cameron Brewer
With just a week until submissions close, only one in 10,000 Aucklanders have so far had their say on Auckland Council’s all important draft 30-year Spatial Plan for the region.

“This is no surprise as people are simply not engaged in long-term planning matters given all the coverage and emphasis around the Rugby World Cup. The timing of this consultation is very disappointing,” says Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer.

Yesterday Mr Brewer wrote to Auckland Council Chief Planning Officer Dr Roger Blakeley asking for the numbers of submissions so far.

Dr Blakeley responded: “As of today we have had 143 submissions (written or online) on the Draft Auckland Plan… We are now 8 days away from the closure of submissions on 25 October 2011. We have approximately two thirds of the number of submissions that we had at the same stage of submissions on the Auckland Unleashed discussion document. However, because we are still dealing with small numbers it is difficult to extrapolate out to what the final number may be.”

Mr Brewer says: “To think we’re actually lagging behind the number of submissions we got on the informal discussion document shows the timing of this all important statutory consultation has badly let the public down.”

“That fact we’ve only received 143 submissions so far on this critical 30-year plan tells me it was ill-advised to demand formal feedback from the public right in middle of the Rugby World Cup. One hundred and forty three submissions is very low when you consider we’re a regional population of nearly 1.5 million. If you consider the 60,000 crowd at Eden Park, well only six of them would’ve filled out a submission so far. The timing couldn’t be worse.

“The public needs to have their say over the coming days as this is arguably the most important document for a generation. It needs strong public input and a rigorous contest of ideas. The plan will dictate the look and feel of the region for years, as well people’s lifestyle and their back pocket. It will also determine whether people want this council to spread its wings and get involved in health, education and social welfare policy which it seems determined to do.

“Officials knew it would be difficult to engage the public at this time, but pushed for it regardless. Some will be curious that this plan seems like it is being rammed through while the public is completely distracted. Hundreds of thousands of ratepayers’ dollars have been spent on promoting the plan in recent weeks, but the advertising has struggled to get any cut through given the rugby.”

Mr Brewer says the public, business and community groups really need to have their say now because once this statutory period’s over, it will all be too late. He says if people haven’t got much time over the next week, they should write a brief submission and then ask to do a fuller verbal submission to councillors in November.

“The slow response is not the public’s fault but rather the council’s for forcing it on the public at this time,” says Cameron Brewer.

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1 comment:

  1. Susanne Vincent, 21. October 2011, 15:06

    I completely agree with Mr Brewer’s statements.

    With over 600 pages to review, the consultation period needed to be at least two months or longer, and probably phased by topic area. .

    Council website only suggests that Aucklanders read the documents online, or away from home at their library. To review this material in a library would take days, and of course annotating or highlighting text wouldn’t be possible. Hard copies are not offered through the website, even though this is the only way that large PDFs can be reviewed practically. Any submitter would have to be inordinately motivated to even start the process.

    The plan documents were not created for online viewing. Again, they are PDFs. They have no internal links to tables, boxes or interrelated information. Navigation is limited to peering at an index then finding a page manually. Because they’re not written for online viewing, the information isn’t layered, but instead is hugely repetitive. In the City and Waterfront plans, much of the material is designed to be read as a double-page spread, which can’t be done with an online PDF.

    They reflect no effort to be concise, and are a pain to review even with hard copies. Also, while a good deal of the material is very good indeed, and reflects some very good-quality thinking, they are largely written in management-speak, some of which is extremely obscure. This defeats the purpose of large scale civic engagement.

    I am very disappointed in Council’s approach to this.