We invited BayBuzz readers to express their views in our first-ever online survey over the past few weeks.

Some of the more notable findings are summarized below.

The BayBuzz readership falls into two main categories at this point — attentive and engaged folks on the “outside” who want to “rattle the cages” with respect to local government, politics and issues; and the folks on the “inside” of local government who live in those cages.

In a survey like ours, we would expect the two groups to somewhat balance each other in terms of change versus status quo. But change advocates took the upper hand in this survey.

For our part, BayBuzz will continue to give voice to the two basic themes underscored by the results. In HB, there is a sizable constituency that: a) doubts the integrity, responsiveness and transparency of local body decision-making; and b) worries that local government decisions are destroying the essence of HB in terms of its natural & environmental assets. We make no bones about it … that’s our constituency.

Here are the key findings.

1. In general, 43% of respondents think “Hawke’s Bay is headed in the right direction,” compared to 36% who say “wrong direction” and 21% who are “not sure.”

2. 51% are “not satisfied with the way current officeholders have been running local government in Hawke’s Bay,” and another 14% are “very dissatisfied,” while 34% are satisfied or very satisfied. It’s not entirely surprising then that only 17% indicated they would be “more likely to vote for incumbent officeholders” in the local elections, compared to 61% who indicated a preference for “fresh faces”  (with 22% not sure).

3. We asked for opinions about several specific proposals and policy directions, with these results:

  • Significant development of Ocean Beach (200+ dwellings) — 72% strongly oppose
  • Extending the Napier airport runway — 64% support (including 33% strongly)
  • Building regional sports complex — 47% support, 33% oppose, 11% don’t know
  • Restoring dolphins to Marineland — 29% support, 63% oppose (including 47% strongly)
  • Closing Splash Planet — 34% support, 40% oppose, 27% don’t know
  • Making environmental protection a higher priority — 97% support (including 68% strongly)
  • Limiting rural sub-divisions — 79% support (including 49% strongly)

4. When asked in more detail about Ocean Beach options, results were strongly anti-development:

  • No more development than exists today — 55%
  • Limited development – 25 or so large lifestyle blocks — 20%
  • 200-300 dwellings, balance in reserve — 22%
  • Seaside village with 1000 dwellings, balance in reserve — 4%

5. Respondents were asked if they agreed or disagreed with a number of statements:

  • Too much ratepayer money spent on big flash projects as opposed to everyday services & amenities — 78% agree (including 33% strongly)
  • Councils do a good job of listening to the people — 31% agree (24% strongly disagree)
  • Rates I pay are pretty fair considering the services I get — 55% agree (11% strongly disagree)
  • Relatively small group of insiders make most of the key decisions in HB — 80% agree (including 46% strongly)
  • Development throughout the Bay needs to be more restricted — 70% agree (including 47% strongly)
  • HB is in danger of losing the ambiance that has made it so appealing — 73% agree (including 48% strongly)
  • We have too much govt in HB – Napier and Hastings Councils should be combined — 64% agree (including 40% strongly)
  • I trust our elected officeholders to make good decisions in the broad public interest — 48% agree (including 15% strongly)
  • Councils often have made up their minds before hearing submissions from the public — 78% agree (including 39% strongly)

Lots of food for thought here. Both for late-voting electors and for the newly-elected officeholders when they assume their duties.

Tom

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