Responses on way to LTP submitters

EDITORIAL

Submitters to the Long-Term Plan (LTP), you have not been ignored. An official council response to your submission is on its way.

Some of the responses, prepared for a council meeting on May 14 to consider submissions to the draft LTP, have been published in editorials over the past two months. For four weeks that was under the assumption submitters had already been sent these council officer replies. They were informative responses to specific points raised, and many people had put a lot of effort into their submissions. Why wouldn’t they get a timely reply that had already been prepared?

Asked about this, a council spokeswoman replied:

“Our responses are sent at the same time the LTP is made formally available to the public on our website which is this Friday. While there were 347 submissions there were over 1000 points that required consideration and response.

“It’s important to be aware the initial responses are to inform councillors during the hearings and deliberations process. The responses available with the submission reports are not final.

“Responses need to capture any changes that the council agreed to between the time of the hearings, audit and when adopting the Long Term Plan. As minor as these may be, responses must be accurate and align to the adopted LTP — this takes time for checking.”

Apparently some councils don’t even provide individual responses to all submission points. Now that’s a real recipe for disengagement.

Asked if there were any timeliness requirements around council replies to LTP submitters, a Local Government NZ spokeswoman said no, “but we would anticipate that officers would wait until their council has adopted the plan or policy on which it was consulting before sending out responses to submitters, as last minute changes are always a possibility”.

Your editor replied: “I would have thought there would be relatively few changes among the hundreds of responses each council sends, and the possibility could be covered by a general note that an update could follow if there was any relevant change to the final LTP.”

LGNZ did not know if any councils followed such a practice.

Submitters to the Long-Term Plan (LTP), you have not been ignored. An official council response to your submission is on its way.

Some of the responses, prepared for a council meeting on May 14 to consider submissions to the draft LTP, have been published in editorials over the past two months. For four weeks that was under the assumption submitters had already been sent these council officer replies. They were informative responses to specific points raised, and many people had put a lot of effort into their submissions. Why wouldn’t they get a timely reply that had already been prepared?

Asked about this, a council spokeswoman replied:

“Our responses are sent at the same time the LTP is made formally available to the public on our website which is this Friday. While there were 347 submissions there were over 1000 points that required consideration and response.

“It’s important to be aware the initial responses are to inform councillors during the hearings and deliberations process. The responses available with the submission reports are not final.

“Responses need to capture any changes that the council agreed to between the time of the hearings, audit and when adopting the Long Term Plan. As minor as these may be, responses must be accurate and align to the adopted LTP — this takes time for checking.”

Apparently some councils don’t even provide individual responses to all submission points. Now that’s a real recipe for disengagement.

Asked if there were any timeliness requirements around council replies to LTP submitters, a Local Government NZ spokeswoman said no, “but we would anticipate that officers would wait until their council has adopted the plan or policy on which it was consulting before sending out responses to submitters, as last minute changes are always a possibility”.

Your editor replied: “I would have thought there would be relatively few changes among the hundreds of responses each council sends, and the possibility could be covered by a general note that an update could follow if there was any relevant change to the final LTP.”

LGNZ did not know if any councils followed such a practice.

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Clive Bibby - 2 months ago
All well and good Jeremy but the reality is that I like most, having put a lot of time into preparing my submission, suffered the embarrassment of thinking that my proposals for change were being listened to during the hearings by councillors with open minds - only to find out later that, in fact, it was a misplaced faith in the system. Councillors had already made up their minds, based on recommendations from council officials, to reject my suggestions and were just going through the motions of appearing to be interested in what I had to say.
Wouldn't it be fairer for the council to make their advised position known to the submitter in order for that final process to be a genuine hearing in every sense of the word?
In fact, it was all a charade and an insult to ratepayers who believed the council's pledge to consult with an open mind.
Is this the sort of democracy that we are encouraged to believe in?
Yeah! right! Don't bother wasting your time.

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