Councillor Don Palmer Providing Local Leadership & Working for You

The Conflict that is Local Government. Local Government is much maligned by many in our community, I suspect Worldwide.

I have heard them all. Councils take too long to make decisions. Council’s do not engage with their community. Councils do not listen to me. What about Councils need regulating. Councils are irrelevant. We should abolish Councils.


Wow! But when we have a problem, who do we turn to. Local Government, our local Council.

Why? Because we can access them, they do listen. In other words, they are relevant when we want somebody to step in on a neighbourhood dispute.

Furthermore, their ability to respond to us promptly is challenged by being more regulated than any other body I know.

That is local government.

Now. They do take a long time to make decisions. No argument from me there. The length of time to get a project from a thought bubble in someone’s head to a project happening on the ground can take seemingly, forever.

There is a good reason for that. Council’s consult. Yes, they consult. Oh Boy, do they Consult.

There is not much Council does without first consulting. This is the rub. Consultation takes time, is resource heavy and it costs. And I mean…it costs.

The single biggest cost Councils have, as I have publicly uttered on many an occasion, is community consultation/communication.

Consultation is, however, a less than perfect science, unfortunately. Possibly always will be. The reason is many of us are happy with our lot until something is set to happen next door.

Trouble is we do not hear or see the signs that are made available when we had a real chance to influence. We then complain we never had that chance, the chance we had but unknowingly ignored.

The other problem is what we want from the Council is not necessarily what our neighbour wants. We expect the Council to respond to us ahead of our neighbour because we are right. My last blog is testimony to that.

The Conflict that is Local Government then expands to the conflict that is being an elected member.

We, the community, elect Councillors to represent us. To advocate for us. To take our side against the faceless men and women whose daily decisions impact our lives.

This is a very fulfilling role. Helping individuals or groups circumnavigate the bureaucracy that is Local Government is rewarding.

It can however be a very frustrating job too. A job where all we do is criticise them.

The rub for Councillors is that, in being elected, they become members of a board of management. So, they become an essential part of decision making. They are the decision-makers, but they are here to represent our views to that board of management.

Question. Should they vote as you, or a small passionate group you are aligned to, would want them to vote. Or do they vote by following their own understanding of the issue they are facing and their role to support all the ratepayers of the City?