BayBuzz has completed its survey of public attitudes towards several major spending projects on local councils’ wish lists.
The “winners” in the survey were extending the Napier airport runway (66% support, 41% strongly), building the northern arterial route connecting Havelock and the Expressway (65% support, 32% strongly), and purchasing land at Ocean Beach for protection (58% support, 39% strongly).
The “losers” were the only two projects opposed by a majority of respondents — redeveloping the HB Museum & Art Gallery (53% oppose, 24% strongly), and building a regional sports park (53% oppose, 36% strongly). Ironically, these two projects have been promoted with a lot of fanfare by Mayors Arnott and Yule.
Maybe the mayors should take salesmanship lessons from Simon Nixon, who has effectively championed the runway extension!
The biggest surprise to me was that 55% approved totally rebuilding HB Regional Hospital. With all the bad news coming out of the District Health Board these days, it’s hard to imagine the public supporting them managing the purchase of a new box of bandaids!
A proposal to develop a sustainable community of about 150 homes in West Flaxmere split respondents fairly evenly, with 47% in support, 45% in opposition, and 8% undecided. It would be fair to say that this project has received the least media coverage of the projects surveyed.
You can view the complete results here. A total of 236 individuals responded to the survey. Since they were self-selected (responding to BayBuzz promotion of the survey) as opposed to randomly selected, these results are directional only.
That said, the gaps between support for the top three projects and opposition to the bottom two are rather striking. Mayors Yule and Arnott have some major
selling educating to do for their pet projects, the regional sports park and museum refurbishing, respectively.
BayBuzz would also contrast the content of its survey — asking about public attitudes to some of the biggest initiatives councils are contemplating — to the totally trivial content of the periodic “official” COMMUNITRAK surveys the Hastings and Napier Councils take regarding public satisfaction with services like our libraries and refuse collection.
Not that these everyday amenities are unimportant.
But we suspect the public would far prefer the chance to respond to official surveys raising “big picture” questions like:
- Should developers build 1000 houses on Ocean Beach?
- Do we want to spend $55 million on a sports park?
- Are you satisfied with water quality in our rivers and streams?
The COMMUNITRAK surveys, conducted year after year, are boilerplate “feel good” surveys. Most questions asked get 80%+ “we love you” responses.
Meanwhile, Councils haven’t a clue about public opinion on some of the biggest, most contentious issues facing Hawke’s Bay. And they’re not likely to ask in any systematic way … because it might derail some of their favorite schemes.
Save the COMMUNITRAK money … or put it into surveys on real issues.