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Neck to neck in the Fake News stakes

Dear Beagle Editor, It was with interest that we read that Eurobodalla had slid to 10th place in the Mystery Customer survey that they have committed substantial funds to. It was heartening at first to hear the announcement that Eurobodalla Council had been voted NUMBER ONE in Australia only to then be disheartened to find that the media release failed to state that this wasn't actually ... the truth. We too need to remain vigilant of fake news. Your readers might be interested in our latest media release: from ‘fake news’ central …

Congratulations would appear to be in order for Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) following its publication of a report by a “specialist planning consultancy”, City Plan Strategy & Development (CPSD), who were commissioned to conduct an “independent review” of council’s development assessment service.

According to council, the key finding of the review is that “Bega Valley Shire is providing development assessment services at a level that is well above the average of its peers when measured against most quantitative & qualitative measures”.

The CPSD findings were underpinned by a “customer satisfaction survey” undertaken by Micromex Research.

While it might come as a shock to many residents & ratepayers, the report found that 87% of respondents rated the service provided by council as “very good” or “good”.

Of course, this result could have something to do with who was surveyed & in the case of this report, it seems that the survey involved interviews with 153 people who had submitted development applications, with 87% being owners or owner/builders & the remaining 13% being so-called “industry professionals” (architects/designers).

While no-one can be certain how people will respond to a telephone survey, it is true that they might be quite forthright with their views about their internet service, electricity prices or political issues, but they be a little more cautious about making criticisms of their local council “on the record”, in particular in a small community.

But the BVSRRA would argue that a true appreciation of the performance of council’s “development assessment service” can only be complete if it takes account of the impact of those services on the entire community; not just on those who make development applications.

Of course, quantifying that impact is made difficult by the fact that council does not operate an effective complaints management system, notwithstanding that “complaint handling is also a key component of sound corporate governance & is fundamental to ensuring an appropriate level of accountability in the exercise of council functions” (Practice Note No9 – Complaints Management In Councils - NSW Ombudsman & the Department of Local Government, 2009).

So, apart from trying to “pump up” its own tyres, why would council management want to draw public attention to this running sore in the community?

Could it be that council is engaged in a campaign to encourage developers to the Bega Valley by producing a report that can be used to promote itself as a “developer friendly” council, where getting things done is easy … like the “breaks” afforded to the developer of the Woolworths site in Merimbula or the proprietors of Romfam Investments who have been gifted all sorts of ratepayer-funded incentives in the hope that they might, just might, decide to dignify our community with yet another supermarket development?

Oh, we forgot … just look at the recommendation!!


The independent review of Council’s Development Assessment Service be published on the Bega Valley Shire Council website and appropriately promoted to the local development industry, potential investors in the Bega Valley, business and the broader community.

How about that? And it only cost us $63,000!! John Richardson Secretary/Treasurer Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association

#Opinion #Council #LocalStateFederal

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