From January 25 to February 3 of this year, a survey was conducted to compile a public benchmark of the performance of the Hastings Council in various dimensions, from satisfaction with governance to satisfaction with sports facilities and footpaths. 503 residents were called, including 280 from the Hastings and Havelock North wards.

Public satisfaction with the performance of the Mayor and Councillors was assessed as dropping from 68% (Very/Fairly good) in 2001 to 51% in 2008:

Very good 11% Fairly good 40%
Just acceptable 25%
Not very good 7% Poor 3%

Satisfaction with public involvement in decision-making was also assessed:

Very satisfied 6% Satisfied 40%
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 26%
Dissatisfied 16% Very dissatisfied 6%

And so was confidence that Council makes decisions in the best interests of the District:

Complete confidence 5% A lot of confidence 17%
Some confidence 46% A little confidence 16%
A little confidence 16% Very little confidence 8% No confidence 5%

Note that the survey was completed before this year’s two public relations hiccups for the Hastings Council — the explosion of adverse reaction to development of Ocean Beach (in which many view the Council as complicit), and the more recent backlash against the proposed sports park (with the Council seen as sharply divided).

With so little political capital in the bank, it’s remarkable to see the Mayor and Council persist in steamrolling forward with the hugely expensive and strategically questionable sports park.

The same Council-sponsored survey found 84% satisfied with sports grounds, and only 10% “not very satisfied.”

Baybuzz conducted its own random survey in the past month, receiving 255 responses in the mail from Hastings and Havelock North residents.

In our survey, as reliable as the Council’s, 31% said Hastings District existing sports facilities “seem to be under-utilized,” while another 46% said they “seem about right for community needs.” That confirms the HDC’s own assessment.

So, the Hastings Council seems to building the sports park for the 10% who are not very satisfied, including, of course, Sam.

I don’t think that’s a strategy that will help much with Council’s “Decisions are made in the best interests of the District” rating. Do you?

In fact, 82% of our respondents said that funds proposed for the sports park could be better spent in some other way. Half of these, 41%, made specific suggestions like more cycle paths and better footpaths; the other half, 41%, said roll back debt or rates.

But that’s “consultation” the Mayor and some Councillors don’t want to heed … or even hear. Which won’t do much for the Council’s “Involve the public in decision-making” rating either.

The only real good news in all this for our elected representatives … the 2010 local body elections are far away.

On the other hand, with the slide in public satisfaction with the Mayor and Councillors trending from 68% to 54% to 51% in seven years, they ought to hit the low 40s by 2010.

Better hope there’s a ribbon-cutting ceremony by then!


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