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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

'Community Concepts' - making the process transparent

In December 2013, the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) invited individuals, groups and organisations in the Greater Geelong area to submit proposals for capital works, to be considered for inclusion in the council's 2014 - 2015 budget.

The programme is called 'Community Concepts' and the submission process opened in December and closed on January 17 2014. This is, of course, a time when many people are away on holiday and the council has been criticised consistently over many years (not least by the Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association) for conducting its 'public consultation' exercises at this time, preventing many people from participating in them.

No accountabilty, no learning from mistakes
Compounding that error, the council is refusing to make submissions public (other than listing their titles on its web site); and, once successful submissions have been chosen, it is refusing to explain how the choices were made. So people who have submitted proposals won't know a) how their submission compared with others and b) what it was about their submission that caused it to be judged a success or failure.

So not only will the whole process be removed from any public accountability, submitters will have no chance to learn what makes a submission successful and, therefore, to improve the quality of their submission for the next year. What a wasted opportunity!

Opening the process to scrutiny - if only a little bit
Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) believes that the 'Community Concepts' programme could be an opportunity for the council and its constituents to collaborate on deciding how the council's capital works budget should be spent. Not only would this open those budget decisions to public scrutiny, it would also improve the quality of those decisions by involving a broader section of the community.

At this stage, the council shows no willingness to grasp those opportunities. No one submitter can break open the council's secretive policy by itself, but DCSCA believes that submitters can at least tell each other about their submissions. This will help us to decide on the good and bad points of our submissions and, in doing so, give us some grounds on which to question the council's final choice of submissions.

To this end, DCSCA will publish its submissions on this blog site; and it invites other submitters to send us their submissions, so that anyone who is interested in the 'Community Concepts' programme can study it in a way that the council won't allow. Please send submissions to DCSCA Secretary Neil McGuinness (

DCSCA's first submission (of thirteen) is below; the remainder will be published on this blog in due course.

Beautification of Council-owned land at Spring Street, Clifton Springs.
Implement Stage 1 of a Community Plan presented to the City of Greater Geelong in 2010. This would entail planting about 100 flowering native shrubs to approx. 1.5m tall to encourage native birds and to obscure the fence line.

Objectives of the project 
  • To beautify the area and enhance community well being
  • To promote healthy lifestyles by encouraging passive recreation
  • To encourage native birds and enhance the ecosystem of the nearby Dell and foreshore
  • To contribute to the council's plan to plant 20,000 native trees and shrubs in the next 12 months.

Street address and suburb: Spring Street, Clifton Springs
Council ward: Coryule
Estimated cost: $1500. Council already mows and maintains the area, so there will be minimal additional maintenance costs.

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