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Monday, 12.18.2017
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12:45 PM
A Guide in How to Not Listen To People

 

We have been here before. I have mentioned Manningham Councils selective listening in several articles on this website.

I would like to show that Manningham Council has not changed one iota. The council gives every sign that they listen to all views. But in reality they have absolutely no interest in hearing things that could run counter to their own self interests.

Let me run through a few examples.

I refer to the 2017 Customer Satisfaction survey. Please see the minutes for 25 July 2017 meeting.

 

First the Big One. Residents Clearly want to see no increase in Rates.

Please see page 293 of the minutes for 25 July 2017.

The message from residents could not be clearer:

Fifty four percent (54%) of residents indicated that they would prefer cuts in Council services in order to keep Council rates at the same level as they are now. Twenty nine percent said they would like to see improvement to local services. Seventeen percent were undecided.

So what does Manningham Council do?

Absolutely nothing.

Manningham Council state this survey finding on page 311 of the minutes. And then they completely ignore it.

It is not even included in the "Focus Areas for Coming 12 Months" on page 312. -- not even mentioned. In this focus for the coming 12 months section, they are prepared to look at: Consultation and Engagement, Community Decisions and Sealed Local Road issues but not this one big issue.

They say the three big issues they will address in the coming 12 months are those where "the stated importance exceeds rated performance by more than 10 points".

For this one big issue it can be said "that stated importance exceeds rated importance by more than 50%". That is a pretty big "stated importance". But they don't like the sound of it. So they simply ignore it.

 

Why do they ignore this big expectation and important issue?

To answer this we need to look at some numbers. Did you know that built into the Council's enterprise bargaining agreement is an automatic 3.4% salary increase each year?

And did you know that roughly half the annual rates the council receives from us goes to pay staff salaries.

What do you think would start to happen if the rates remained frozen at the current level, but staff salaries were to increase by 3.4% year after year?

Please allow me to explain.

That percentage of rates spent on salaries would increase year by year. Soon it would be 60% of rates and then later it would be 70% of rates. To compensate, the council would have to reduce spending on the services they provide to the community. Soon people would start to notice and wonder why they are giving the council all this money but they do less and less for them?

The answer would be obvious. They are taking the lions share of our rate money for themselves as pay and do less and less in return.

Soon the council would be seen to be self interested people they are, hiding behind a lie that they are only there to serve the community.

Manningham Council can simply never allow that to happen.

And that is why this big issue is ignored year after year.

A similar result was in the customer satisfaction survey for the prior year where a similarly big percentage of people who did not want to see an increase in rates. And it was ignored in that year as well.

 

Second, the Crimes of Manningham Council come back to haunt them.

A while back, Manningham Council announced plans to build a high ball stadium at Mullum Mullum creek.

It was in the council's interest to build the stadium because, from what I can determine, building the stadium was in line with the state government objectives. It appears that the state government wants councils to have such sporting facilities to help address health, fitness and well-being issues within the community.

However, certain residents near where the high ball stadium was planned to be built objected and took it upon themselves to canvas opinions on the matter. They went to the existing facilities at Mullum Mullum reserve and asked club members to sign a petition opposing the development. The clubs were outraged. The clubs had 'determined their position' and wanted to present a 'monolithic position' to the council. Some clubs were 'deeply concerned about some comments by local residents'.

Please see the article 'Community Expectations – Well not really' on this website for full details. The annoyance of the clubs was fully documented in the council minutes while the objections the residents made to having the High Ball Stadium built were either overlooked or minimized.

The council simply did not want to hear what the residents were saying.

However, the council went to great lengths to seek the opinions of people who would use the stadium. They even went to sporting clubs that were not based in Manningham to obtain their opinions. On the other hand, the residents were largely overlooked. In fact the residents had to make their own request to the council for a meeting so they could voice their objections.

It appears that Manningham Council decided they were not going to listen to the protests of the residents. And from what I can gather from the minutes, those residents who objected were treated rather poorly by Manningham Council.

So what do we find in this years Customer Satisfaction Survey?

We find that the residents of certain areas around the Mullum Mullum area, marked the council down badly for not listening.

"There has been a noticeable decline in overall performance ratings amongst residents East of Mullum Mullum Creek in the past year and should be monitored by Council moving forward." (minutes page 294)

I wonder why the residents east of Mullum Mullum creek thought the council were performing badly? It appears that the crimes of Manningham Council are coming back to haunt them.

However at the very least, the Council will now have to make an effort to win them back.

 

Why participate in this satisfaction survey each year if the council has no intention of really listening to what people say?

The answer is quite simple really. In fact the council states it in the minutes of the meeting.

Please see page 300 of the minutes. Manningham Council does not participate in the survey because they want to listen and improve their services to the community. They participate because it helps them with some mandatory reporting requirements to the State Government.

So they do not participate because they really want to hear what everyone has to say. Rather these surveys help them fill in a few boxed on forms they have to send back to the state government.

No doubt the state government wants local councils to listen to people. So what does Manningham Council do?

They participate in surveys, pretend to listen, fill in the required forms and then promptly forget everything they do not like.

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