Mayoral candidate Councillor Phil Mauger today announced that if elected Mayor in October one of his first priorities will be to establish a Community Forum where chairs of Community Boards and Residents Groups meet to discuss issues.
The Community Forum will take place every second month. Chairs of Community Boards and Residents Groups will meet with the mayor and key council managers to discuss current issues, identify emerging issues and offer solutions to existing community concerns.
“I am campaigning on a platform to restore ratepayers’ confidence in the council. We must genuinely listen to our ratepayers to identify roadblocks and find out how we can improve what we do – after all its ratepayers’ money we are spending.
“Our community boards and residents’ groups are on the ground and have a close and vital relationship with people in the different wards. They are often the first people to hear about issues and the first to offer solutions.
“Over the last few months, I have attended lots of “meet the candidate” meetings organised by resident groups, and I have been out and about in the community. I hear the same message all the time – our community want to be heard; they want genuine two-way consultation and the council to be more transparent about its decisions.
“We need to look at new ways to talk with our community, so we fully understand issues at a grass roots level. The idea of the Community Forum is a place where grass roots and emerging community issues can be raised, and ideas discussed and then outcomes agreed to solve problems. Council would work in partnership with the community to implement the outcomes.
“There are some compelling numbers to back up this idea. In the council’s last residents’ survey overall satisfaction with the council’s services has dropped to only 42% of people satisfied – this is a record low.
“Only 31% of ratepayers have confidence the council makes decisions in the best interests of the city, and only 25% feel they can participate in and contribute to council decision making.
“These numbers are clearly not good enough. We must listen to our community and this new Community Forum is a start to have genuine two-way consultation. Minutes and actions from the Forums would be recorded and publicly available on the council’s website.
“The Community Forum would be chaired by an experienced facilitator and there would be an agenda and rules of engagement. Attending these meetings would be key council managers so they are also hearing about issues first hand.
“I believe in the power of grassroots communications. Recently residents’ groups across Christchurch joined together to ask city councillors to defy the Government’s new housing intensification laws, which I did by voting no, as did other councillors.
“By involving our community in our decision making and problem solving, together we can get stuff done,” says Phil Mauger.