Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A dodgy report card for 'democratic' Darebin

A report card featured in Monday night's meeting of Council shows Darebin's worst performance across five areas was recorded in the category of 'A Democratic City'.

Based on results from the annual Darebin Community Survey, only 50% of Council Plan Indicators were achieved in this category, compared with 83% in the same category in 2006-2007 and 66% in 2005-2006.

Yet even these figures are rubbery, despite Darebin's commitment to 'transparent reports on our performance' (Annual Report Summary for 'A Democratic City').

Within the Democratic City category, Council scored 73% 'approval' for its performance on community engagement against a Council Plan target of greater than 67%. However, notes for this indicator (p.37 Annual Report), show that the 73% figure includes community responses of 'adequate', 'good' or 'excellent'. This leaves 27% of responses presumably in the categories of 'poor' or 'very poor'.

We are also not told the numbers responding or the levels of approval/disapproval across years. The years 2006 and 2008 both recorded 73% on this indicator, but without the full report, we cannot tell if there were more or fewer responses of 'adequate' in these years - not to mention responses of 'very poor'. The figures released hide a true picture of Council performance over time.

The same report card showed a delay in the review of the City of Darebin Community Consultation Policy and Guidelines (p.41 Annual Report). This was to be completed in 2008 but has now been pushed back to 2009 - after the election.

Council's report card was celebrated on a night of self-congratulation by Darebin Council. It was also a night when Council's Kevin Breen could not confirm a start date for its online service allowing residents to track Darebin planning applications - this despite an October 2007 assurance it would be available by the end of that year.

As the system would offer significant improvements to the transparency of planned developments in Darebin, that's another cross in a report card that needs a lot more ticks.

See also 'Council elections and democratic renewal'

Back to my campaign website

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