Thursday, November 19, 2009

Submitting to Wellington City Council's district plan: The rubbishy treatment ratepayers get

As many know, I live in the Wellington region and the Wellington City Council is making changes to the District Plan, and have been asking for submissions. They are due on Friday week. I thought I`d do a blog post to outline how difficult it is for ratepayers to get any relevant information from the Wellington City Council to make an informed submission to a District Plan.

About three weeks ago we rang the council to get some information about the District Plan as it relates to our area.We got about 300 pages of information for just one simple request. I didn't have time to read them all, and even if I did, I had no idea whether I would find what I wanted to.

So I rang the council to see if they had any information on the council's web site. The contact person was unavailable , so I got through to someone and was told to look on a certain web page. That page had about 60 PDFs files, each having many pages. When I advised that I didn't have time to go through 60 PDF's I asked which PDF/s I should be referring to. They didn't know. So I asked them to send some material in the mail that would directly address what I wanted to submit to.

In the interim I thought I'd call the contact person on the page with all the PDF's . Perhaps that was the unavailable person who would know a bit more.I later found out indeed he is the main contact person. His name is Jeremy Blake. He wasn't just unavailable -he was on annual leave until near the date that submissions are due. Marvellous. Some "contact" person.

Anyway, I never got the material, so I rang the Mayors office. They said they`d get someone to ring me. Someone rang me back fairly promptly but that person had no idea what to tell me.

As it happens, today I received my copy of The Wellingtonian. There was an article on the "arcane" plan change process. Some residents associations have been complaining about the plan. The Councils response: Stop complaining and get on with making a submission.

Well, I had tried for 10 days and many phone calls to get some information to do so. As it stands, the Council have been useless.There has been just six submissions to the plan change that I would like to submit to, and three of those arrived in this mornings mail, according to the Council.

The District Plan affects thousands of residents. If this is the treatment the Council dish out to ratepayers after asking them to submit to the District Plan, no wonder they don't get many submissions when they call for them.

Update: I later had a call from the Council after I rang the Mayors office. It was then I was told that the very information I requested was not sent, and most of what was earlier sent had nothing to do with what was asked for. So,glad I didn't read it then. Lets see if it arrives this time.

Update 2 It arrived, by email. It was a document which was buried in one of the manuals I had been sent but the Council couldn't tell me earlier where that document was among the 300 or so pages they sent, even when asked the first few times.I can now make a submission. I have also had a chat to Cr Andy Foster, who is the councillor clued up on such matters. He was actually most helpful with navigation around the Draft Plan.I asked him to extend the deadline for submissions. Unfortunately he didn't know all the rules around the extension process.




Blogger Lindsay Mitchell said...

A person with less tenacity would have given up. What they count on, I suspect. Good on you.

November 19, 2009 at 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good on your for chasing the Council up on this - they have hidden this material on their website so they don't get over whelmed with responses - couldn't have that could we - it might be meaningful consultation would could occur!

November 19, 2009 at 9:15 PM  

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