Friday, December 18, 2009
Council consultation procedures
The Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) believes that the City of Greater Geelong's public communication and consultation practices could be better than they are now; and that improving them would contribute to building a vigorous local democracy. We are keen to contribute to that process and, in that spirit, we make the following two proposals:
1. The City of Greater Geelong should develop a set of protocols concerning its communication and consultation with communities and other stakeholders; and should list specific communication and consultation targets that should be met before any proposal or report is presented to a Council meeting.
2. Each proposal or report presented to a Council meeting should include a section - ‘Communication & Consultation’ - in which the authors show that they have:
(i) communicated with and consulted relevant communities and other stakeholders in accordance with the Council’s communication and consultation protocols
(ii) met the specific targets associated with those protocols.
Such protocols and targets will enable councillors to see whether and to what extent their officers have communicated and consulted with stakeholders in the manner that the Council has decided they should; and they will enable stakeholders to see whether and to what extent their views have been taken into account in a Council proposal or report.
At present, some reports and proposals to Council list and/or summarise the results of consultations, but this practice isn’t consistent. Implementing our two proposals will give continuity and consistency to the Council’s relationships with its stakeholders.
DCSCA's proposals require no new spending and this alone should commend them to councillors! Indeed, we believe that making the Council’s public communication and consultation consistent with published protocols and targets will streamline officers’ work, instill new stakeholder confidence in the process and provide tangible evidence that the City of Greater Geelong listens to its constituents and wants to promote local democracy. The outcome will be that the Council's public communication and consultation will be easier and quicker (and potentially less expensive) to perform.