Clear up terms of ‘engagement’, say residents

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Jackson Lavell-Lee
More than 160 concerned attended the BTBAG electors style meeting and overwhelmingly voted for a motion to improve the City of Busselton’s community consultation process.
Camera IconMore than 160 concerned attended the BTBAG electors style meeting and overwhelmingly voted for a motion to improve the City of Busselton’s community consultation process. Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

The Bay to Bay Action Group has taken aim at the City of Busselton’s new community engagement policy after councillors voted to adopt it 9-0 at their meeting last week.

Community consultation was chief among community concerns expressed at the Bay to Bay Action Group “electors-style” meeting on Tuesday night, with many residents citing a lack of recent consultation on the cost of the Busselton Performing Arts Convention Centre project.

The City’s community engagement and consultation strategy was implemented in September 2010 after no community feedback on the policy was offered, but the new policy drops the term “consultation”.

The new policy provides officers with guiding principles for ensuring stakeholders are informed of matters that affect them, have the opportunity to make informed comment, and are advised of the outcomes and how their feedback helped to inform the decision.

However, Bay to Bay Action Group acting president Anne Ryan moved that the City reinstate the word “consultation’, and redefine the term ‘stakeholder’ to include “ratepayers, residents and businesses” to ensure true transparency.

The action group has called for the City to improve its engagement policy by no later than December and for the policy to be widely advertised before a council vote.

“We believe the word ‘engagement’ is just a fancy way of sitting people down and showing them a plan or idea, no interaction required,” she said.

“It was terrific that Cr (Paul) Carter seconded the motion, but a little ironic that it was not debated at the meeting on 9th September and argued against in any way.

“Cr Carter believed there were better ways to engage with the community — he just didn’t know how.”

City of Busselton chief executive Mike Archer said the intention of the policy was to improve community engagement.

“The intention is to develop and embed an engagement framework that provides council and City officers with clear practices and tools to guide stakeholder engagement,” he said.

“Our engagement policy states why and when we will engage. The engagement framework, once implemented, will be an operational resource which looks more specifically at how the City will engage.”

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