Community *cough* engagement 2.3.2012


More gobsmackingly bad outpourings from the ‘management’ team at Newcastle City Council made news today.

Next Tuesday 6th March Councillors will receive a ‘review’ of the Laman Street ‘engagement process‘. The 200+ page report – I guarantee you most of it will be padding – is available on Council’s website here.

Here are some quotes from the appalling executive summary:

‘Council’s communication strategy was reactive and used traditional communication methods to
present information to the community. This was not effective for this issue as community groups had adopted a more proactive campaign using social media.’

This is the second paragraph. I take issue with this actually: I think Council staff were very proactive with at least one form of social media: they were very busy leaving comments on the Herald online website whenever there was a fig ‘fiasco’ article.

‘The lack of a dedicated project manager for the Laman Street issue impacted negatively on the success of the communication campaign.’

I thought they had about four project managers: they were called Council directors. No one did anything else in that Council for at least a year.
‘Media releases were selectively reported in the media, and in contrast, the case put forward
by community groups was comprehensively covered by the media.’

Poor babies. Funny how when you try to sell spin it doesn’t grab journalists’ attention.

‘In managing the Laman Street tree issue, Council Officers prepared an extensive range of information to the point where their ability to complete their regular duties was compromised.’

What did I tell you? NCC held WEEKLY meetings about Laman Street from early in 2010. WEEKLY. That was the ‘Laman Street control group’. Hear the shredders going? That’s the minutes and notes from those meetings disappearing.

‘…there is confusion regarding the term ‘consultation’ as opposed to ‘information’.


Figs in Napier St, Paddington: on Sydney City Council's Significant tree register


”The discussions at the Laman Street Trees Working Party (LSTWP) mimicked debate in the Council chamber and in the public arena. This resulted in a debate that focussed on contradicting the evidence supplied by Council Officers, discrediting the independent risk assessments, and rejecting any additional data presented rather than seeking ‘evidence based solutions’.

Words fail me. There was a lawful resolution in December 2010 to maintain the trees and manage the alleged risk. Council actively worked against this resolution and failed to perform its duty.

‘A directive stating that issues of major community significance, that are also identified as
posing a high risk to safety, should be clearly communicated so that the community can
be informed on the issues at hand and Council’s response. However, community
consultation would not be required as this would provide an expectation that the
community would be able to provide feedback on an operational issue .’

Please someone put a broom through that place.
‘Make representations to the Newcastle Herald to instigate a process to check letters for
factual correctness (similar to process applied to Sydney Morning Herald letters).’

For factual correctness read Council-speak.

I know how NCC can save about $200 000 a year: make the position of ‘Director of Community Engagement’ redundant.

Excuse me while I go and throw up. Home 





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One Response to “Community *cough* engagement 2.3.2012”

  1. Patricia Gillard Says:

    Thanks to the 201 people that filled in the Survey of Supporters, we have some information of our own to report. I’ve finally finished writing it up and you can go to my website and get a copy of the analysis and the graphs from Zoomerang.

    Copies have been sent around on the email list as well.

    Thank you very much to the people who were so eloquent in putting their perspective. You’ll find many of your quotes in the report.


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