Archive:  Surveys

Last Updated 19/7/16

 

 

 

 CURRENT  Council In Denial About New Lows In Community Satisfaction With Its Performances, Blames Talk Of Rates-Capping.   Still Not Listening To The Community Then...

(19/7/16 - C)  Community loss of confidence in Council is confirmed in falls in overall council performance, overall council direction, advocacy, lobbying, making community decisions, consultation, planning, and how council is handling business and tourism.  Many 2016 satisfaction scores are the worst of this Council's term, and worse than the previous (2012) Council.  Time to throw out this failed Council, and our CEO. 

The Community Satisfaction Survey (available from Council's website) provides Index Scores (out of 100) in 27 Council performance/service area categories (two of these - 'Condition of sealed roads' and 'Making decisions on behalf of the community' - were added in 2015).  Community views on both performance, and the importance of each performance area, are included in the Survey.  Until now, 2014 had been the 'black' year of satisfaction for Council, but 2016 sets some new lows that make some of 2014's bad results look good.  2016 Survey results are in fact the worst or equal worst of this Council’s term in 16 of 27 categories, and are worse than results for the previous (2012) council in 17 of 25 categories.

 

This year Macedon Ranges Shire residents sent an unmistakable message that Council's performance and direction aren't what residents want.  In 2016, Council took a 6 point fall in community satisfaction with 'Overall council direction' (to 48), and 'Planning and building permits’ plummeted to 43 (7 points below both Large Rural Shire and State averages).  ‘Town planning policy’ slid to 48, while ‘Lobbying on behalf of the community’ and ‘Business and tourism’ fell 4 points.  Even Customer Service at 65 points, and which Council prides itself on, is lower than the previous (2012) Council's score (69), is equal lowest of this Council term, and is below both Large Rural Shire and State-wide 2016 averages (67 and 69 respectively). 

 

There are significant falls in community satisfaction with Council’s “core” performances including ‘Overall performance’ (-4 to 55 points), ‘Overall council direction’ (-6 to 48), and ‘Advocacy’ (-4 to 49).  Three of seven of Council's “core” performance results fall below 50 points and, overall, 8 of 27 results are below 50 points.  Council also lags up to 5 points below State-wide averages in all 7 “core” performance areas. 


MRSC "CORE" PERFORMANCES V LARGE RURAL SHIRE & STATE AVERAGES

core-performances-chart-2016

 

 

Council's PR media response confines itself to measuring 2016 results against Large Rural Shire averages, saying Macedon Ranges did better than or was consistent with those averages.  It also (unbelievably) blames talk of rate-capping for falls in all Large Rural Shire and State performance averages (additionally ignoring the fact that some Large Rural Shire and State averages rose or stayed the same as 2015).

 

The Survey itself understates the situation, saying “Council is not performing strongly on many individual service areas” (page 11).  It identifies 12 areas where Council's performance lags more than 10 points below the importance the community assigned to it, with 'Maintenance of sealed roads' 30 points behind, and "Planning permits' (29), 'Population growth' (27), 'Slashing and weed control' (26) and 'Consultation and engagement' (25) points behind.

 

RResidents in East Ward were happier (or happiest) with Council's performances in several areas, with West Ward residents consistently unhappy, and some 'significant' unhappiness in key areas in South Ward.

 

Highest scores were 'Appearance of public areas' (up 2 to 71 points), 'Waste management' (down 1 to 71 points), and 'Emergency and disaster management' (down 3 to 70 points). 

Lowest scores were 'Overall council direction' (down 6 to 48 points), 'Planning and building permits' (down 5 to 43 points) and 'Town planning policy' (down 2 to 48 points).  

Overall, Council improved in 4 areas.  Best improvements were 'Roadside slashing and weed control' (up 5 to 51 points), and 'Appearance of public areas' (up 2 to 71 points).

Council fell below Large Rural Shire averages in 13 performance areas, and was above in 9.  Council was also below State-wide averages in 21 areas, and above in 4.

See MRRA's analysis of 2016 Macedon Ranges' Satisfaction Survey Results

 

MRRA Says:

 

Few would need convincing that this Shire needs a new Council and - importantly - a new CEO.  These survey results are the straw that breaks the camel's back and evidence of a failed Council that not only doesn't represent its community, it ignores it.  It's a Council that then "spins" its way out by denying and lying about the results.  Don't worry about what a Council is supposed to do, about the only things this Council excels in is misrepresentation and obstruction.  The things a good Council should do well run a long last in this Council's priorities, and performances. 

 

The extra money Council put into roadside slashing last year produced favourable results.  Imagine what might have happened if Council had put the money it wastes on its Tokai junkets, rubbish reports and white elephant economic development projects like the Equine 'Everything' Centre into what really matters to the community.

 

Only a few Councillors would be worth keeping at the upcoming Council election; the rest must go.  Jennifer Anderson is pretty-much universally seen as the role model for the type of councillors we need, and somewhere out there must be a CEO capable of producing better satisfaction levels than these. Time for a change for the better.  It starts October 22nd, and the new Council's first task must be getting a new CEO. 

 

 

 

$14 Million Debt, Rates' Capping,  A Deteriorating Financial Situation, A Potentially Bursting Housing Bubble - And Now, Targeted Consultation and A White Elephant Equine Centre

(23/6/15 - C)  Lucky us - Macedon Ranges just about has it all.  Feeling better off?  Didn't think so, and the latest Community Satisfaction Survey results confirm this Council needs to get back to what the community expects it to do... 

Only three Councillors put the community first at the 27 May council meeting.  Six supported much narrower interests.  Here's an overview from MRRA reps' notes of how the debate went about Council supporting the not-needed Equine Centre financial juggernaut.

 

In response to Cr. Anderson's questions, Macedon Ranges' economic development officer Kylie Lethbridge confirmed half the people who responded to Council's online survey were from outside the Shire (using postcode as the basis for assumptions).  95.6% were in favour.  Estimated costs to Council for the Equine Centre so far are around $100,000, with another $100,000 - $150,000 cost to pursue the project.  

 

Cr. Piper moved and Cr. Anderson seconded an amended motion, replacing officer recommendations for actions with recommendations for reports to be made back to Council before further spending - i.e. full financial costings of proceeding with the equine centre, including estimated officer time, any in-kind support, council costs to undertake a full risk assessment and subsequent further studies or business cases required. 

Cr. Piper's motion also included that Council acknowledge that a full risk analysis including (but not limited to) risks such as environmental, situational, strategic, operational, financial and commercial, is required to assess council's risk appetite and whether a business case is viable.  A further change in Cr. Piper's motion was that officers provide the above reports without spending any more Council money on the items/actions listed in the officer's recommendation.  

 

Cr. Piper said she was not against equine but concerned as a councilllor about best practice - there is no risk analysis about Council's risk.  The dollar spend isn't itemised.  The Centre is not an essential service of council.  Ratepayers are $14 million in debt.  She wants to see in a report what liability this project is going to be on Council in future.  Even though the Feasilibity Study says proposed arrangements are minimal risk to Council - Council has $14 million debt, and rate capping.  She wants to know what is 'minimal risk', and couldn't support the equine centre without any details.

Cr. Jukes - against.  The business case covers details.  It's not a small project - State if not National significance.  Jobs, additional support from State, tourism. Facility has a $9.9 million per annum economic impact.  As for targeted consultation - it was well advertised and a lot of positive feedback.  91% thought it was a good way to go (forward-looking in Australia).  Business - have done forecasts to cater for such a facility.  Go back to State government, work with, get funding for.  Environment issues - need a site, not determined yet, general area only identified.  Those he spoke to, plenty of them out there willing to back it up.

Cr. Hackett - against.  Public consultation resulted in 989 respondents to Council's survey.  36 didn't like it, 95.4% loved it.  Re cost - equine activities are one of the highest spending - should not be neglected. $9 million annual economic impact, 300 jobs.  Have to now put business plan.  Have done the consultation.

Cr. Letchford - against.  Said something about roads, rates and rubbish, and the Intergenerational Report, and if Council applied risk strategy to pools, we wouldn't have any.  Advocating for 97% , if didn't move it forward would be advocating for 3%.  This is creating wealth - have to be innovative and bring something forward.   

 

Cr. Anderson -  very high risk.  The equine centre project isn't about horses or emotion.  For council, it's about risk. There are too many risks.  Not supported by the planning scheme or Amendment C84 (both say protect this area from development).  Potential to lose other grants if State funds this.  There are a lot financial assumptions, must have other things.  Potentially taking money away from existing needs.  Consultation was biased, 50% of respondents were from outside the Shire.  Council advertised the Feasibility Study through REIN and Facebook to other horse-focussed sites, targeted the equine industry.  In the end it's a centre without exclusive community use.  Building cost is massive, not sustainable, consultation is compromised, if someone out there wants it go for it, but don't commit ratepayers to it.

 

Cr. Mowatt  Not against it in principle, but where is due diligence?  Enough is enough - this and Council's debt level - do risk assessment first then do business case and then to State government.

 

Cr. McLaughlin - Risk assessment - still need to do business case first before risk assessment.  Will bring $9.9 million into local community, fantastic economic development opportunity.

 

Cr. Hackett - community consultation was thorough, ads in paper, not biased.  $98,000 investment already, it's spot on, capitalise on the investment.  Cr. Anderson: officer confirmed Council targeted horse industry Facebook sites and REIN. 

Cr. Anderson - Have already given a thorough list of risks.  Prefer risk analysis first - would hope that risk and budget implications would be at the top of the agenda, don't want huge risk, meet standards - that's our job.

Cr. Piper:  The debate isn't about risk or costs, it's about making decisions - 101 decision making. 

 

Cr. Piper's amended motion was put and lost.  Cr. Anderson requested a division: For - Crs. Anderson, Mowatt, Piper.  Against -  Crs. Connor, Hackett, Jukes, Letchford, Ellis and McLaughlin. 

Cr. McLaughlin then moved the officer's recommendation, with amendments.   Cr. Anderson then moved (Cr. Piper seconded) a further amendment - that council requests the State government to provide all financial and other support and undertake the development of a full business case for the equine centre in the Macedon Ranges  incorporating a community access model.  Cr. Anderson said she wanted this put in because of concerns about the $38,000 already spent, how much more in costs?  All ratepayers are affected. 

Cr. Connor then moved, (Cr. Letchford seconded) a procedural motion, that Cr. Anderson's amendment be put (i.e. immediately).  It was so put, and lost.  Cr. Letchford requested a division:  For -  Crs Anderson, Mowatt, Piper.  Against - Crs Connor, Letchford, Ellis, Hackett, McLaughlin, Jukes. 

The meeting then returned to Cr. McLaughlin's amended motion.  Cr. Letchford spoke to the motion and noted that the $38,000 Council has spent was only about $1 per ratepayer - gosh, you would think it would break the bank, and that less than 10 objections were received on environmental grounds.  This is business moving forward, Council's ahead of the game.  Stakeholders in the south of the Shire - haven't heard objections.  Hume etc are looking for value adding.

 

Cr. McLaughlin finished by saying it was a great and important issue, do it step by step.  Risk - budget and debt are not the result of one single decision. 

The motion before Council (i.e. Cr. McLaughlin's motion with amendments, seconded by Cr. Letchford)) was then put and carried.  Cr. Anderson requested a division:  For -  Crs Connor, Letchford, Ellis, Hackett, McLaughlin, Jukes.  Against - Crs Anderson, Mowatt, Piper.

MRRA Says:

And now you have a fair idea of why the good ship "Macedon Ranges" is sinking.  Only 3 of our 9 councillors consistently tried to do their job and put ratepayers' interests first.  The rest? 

There was a whiff of bullying when some of the chaps challenged Cr. Anderson saying she couldn't move an amendment, but the governance officer said she could.

As for the statistics of how many love this proposal, by the time the debate finished, it had started to sound like Pick A Number.   On reflection, it reminded us of Council's budget in many ways...

The officer's report said 789 surveys were received, 741 people (95.2%) supported the pony equine centre, and 718 were involved in equine activities within the Macedon Ranges (Council had previously said 80% of respondents were "general residents" but apparently not).  Interestingly, of the 12,810 people Council claims received Facebook notifications about the Feasibility Study (hmmm... don't recall MRRA getting one), only 622 (some 4.9%) clicked on posts to find out more.  Council didn't say how many of the thousands notified, or how many of the hundreds clicking on posts, lived in Macedon Ranges.

The overall impression is that some of our councillors seem to see themselves as high flyers - you know, the types that get their thrills playing the stock market.   Maybe that's why the huge risks around this dud equine centre seems so sexy, that and the fact that Council is playing it with someone else's money.  Council would of course prefer to play with the State government's money, but we are hoping the State government is much, much smarter than Council seems to think it is. 

 

While roads, rates and rubbish apparently aren't nearly as sexy as the pony venture, if more of our Councillors focussed on what a Council and Councillors are supposed to do, maybe Council wouldn't be looking down the barrel of Community Satisfaction Ratings like these: 

only 52% community approval for Council's performance on consultation and engagement, and on community decisions;

only 51% approval for sealed roads;

only 50% approval for town planning policy and 48% for planning permits; 

Rock-bottom was - you probably guessed already - maintenance of roads only 47% and roadside slashing only 46%. 

 

That won't change while we have 6 of 9 Councillors prioritising economic empire-building instead of responsible governance, or while Council pours more and more of our budget into big pet projects like this useless, expensive, over-the-top equine centre while cutting back on what counts.

 

By the way, none of the councillors declared a conflict of interest in voting on this proposal.

 

 

Macedon Ranges Shire's 2012 Community Satisfaction Survey Results

(17/10/12 - C)  Wins, and some pull-your-socks-up losses, for Council 

The good news is, 2012 Community Satisfaction Survey results are available for Macedon Ranges.  The bad news is, these results can't be measured against previous years. 

 

Annual Community Satisfaction Surveys began in 1998.  They are run by the Department of Planning and Community Development, and survey residents about their Council's performance.  Results are presented as percentages, and a weighted rating. 

 

This year the Survey changed.  More, and more specific, issues were addressed, and responses are presented by ward, gender and age.  The importance residents assign issues is now published and incorporated into weighted results (index scores), and changed methodology means that previous Survey results cannot be compared with 2012 weighted ratings. 

 

However, the Survey includes results for all councils in Victoria (State), as well as the "Large Rural Shires Group", of which Macedon Ranges Shire is a member.  This at least allows Macedon Ranges Council's 2012 (weighted) indexed scores to be directly compared with 2012 State and Large Rural Shires Group results, and with where the Shire stood relative to other areas in 2011. 

 

Based on 2012 comparisons, Council:

Click here for an overview of results, and the big ticket items Council needs to address first.

 

Click here for an overview including results for wards.

 

Click here for full 2012 Community Satisfaction Survey results.  NB The only place MRRA has found these results is as an attachment in the Council Agenda for 29/8/12, as Item CX2 Attachment.  Warning:  this is a large 5.8mb file.

 

 

DPCD Community Satisfaction Survey - Council:  Same Old, Same Old... Mediocrity

(10/8/08 - C)  Planning, local roads and footpaths are "key improvement areas", with community engagement "act here next"

 

The latest Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey, run by the Department of Planning and Community Development, has been released.  These surveys are conducted annually for municipalities throughout Victoria, sampling 350 residents in each. 

 

According to the results, this year the only major (weighted) improvement noted for Macedon Ranges is in the Advocacy category (perhaps due to the survey coinciding with Council's win in the Supreme Court on the Romsey pokies issues in March this year). 

 

Other areas which showed improvement (unweighted) were Overall Performance (+2%), Community Engagement (+4%), Human and Health Services (+3%), Economic Development (+4%) and Town Planning Policy and Approvals (+6%). 

 

The areas where community satisfaction fell were Customer Contact (-1%), Local Roads and Footpaths (-6%), Appearance of Public Areas (-3%), Traffic Management and Parking Facilities (-12%), Waste Management (-1%), and Enforcement of Local Laws (-2%).

 

The areas with the lowest satisfaction ratings were Local Roads and Footpaths (43% satisfaction, -6% in 2008), and Town Planning Policy and Approvals (46%, +6%).  Note: 'satisfaction' with planning has been below 50% since 2004 (53% in 2003).

 

The areas with highest satisfaction levels were Health and Human Services (81%, +3%), Appearance of Public Areas (79%, -3%), and

Advocacy (78%, +4%).

 

For the results in Macedon Ranges to have a context, DPCD provides ratings for comparison with other municipalities in the Large Rural Councils group (of which Macedon ranges is a member), and all Councils in the State.  This puts a different perspective on Macedon Ranges' performance. 

 

Comparison With Other Large Rural Shires

Despite rises and falls in ratings in some areas, overall Macedon Ranges' ratings were:

Comparison With All Victorian Councils

 

Overall Macedon Ranges' ratings were significantly lower than those across all Councils.  The only two categories where Macedon Ranges came out ahead at a Statewide level were Advocacy (78% v 77%) and Traffic Management and Parking (67% v 65%).  Macedon Ranges rose 4% in Advocacy whereas Statewide there was a 2% fall, and Macedon Ranges fell 12% on Traffic Management and Parking whereas Statewide there was only a 3% fall.

 

The overall picture is of mediocrity - that is, a Shire struggling to achieve and maintain acceptable standards in a number of categories, and particularly, struggling to find any form of consistent improvement over time.  Macedon Ranges lags behind in most categories when compared with other large rural shires, and falls well short when compared with Statewide standards. The lowest ratings (below 50%) point to an urgent need for a concerted effort to make major improvements. 

 

Click here for a simple summary of Macedon Ranges results.

 

The Macedon Ranges’ report can be downloaded from Council’s website: http://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/Files/CommSatisfactionSurvey08.pdf  

 

There is also a State level overview available from DPCD’s website: www.dpcd.vic.gov.au

 

MRRA Says:

 

It is almost unbelievable that there is actually a Shire in the Large Rural group that is worse than Macedon Ranges, but it seems there is!!!

 

The really critical area for Macedon Ranges is (again) planning, highlighting what an important issue it is to most residents.  It isn't just a problem this year, it has always been a problem.  The kindest thing that can be said about Council's performance in planning, since amalgamation, is dismal.  It is to be hoped that after the November Council election, the Shire will have a majority of Councillors who understand planning (as opposed to those who use it for their own purposes) and will at long last lift the Shire from being almost bottom of the heap.

 

 

Council Releases Latest "Characteristics Of New Ratepayers"  2006/2007 Survey

(21/6/08 - E)  Confirms people still come here because it is rural, and also that some of the things they want in their rural paradise will make it a suburb

This document is available from Council's website at www.mrsc.vic.gov.au.

 

MRRA Says:

 

We aren't quite sure who is being counted as 'new residents' but it seems to include people who are moving around within the Shire (i.e. who already live here but change residential address).

 

There is a snippet of information about population growth at the front of the report.  The Shire's growth rate has dropped from an average of +2.0% per annum between 1996 and 2001, to +1.2% between 2001 and 2006.  The report then tells us something MRRA and quite a number of residents already knew. 

 

Between 2001 and 2006 greatest growth in the Shire has occurred in Gisborne (3.9% per annum) but Romsey (3.7% per annum) and Riddells Creek (3.0% per annum) are only a little way behind (ABS 2006 census).  These three towns account for 94% of growth in towns and 76% of Shire growth.  Thus almost all growth in population is occurring in the south and south east of the Shire, in the towns closest to Melbourne.

 

That high growth in Gisborne is probably the result of developers having the town by the throat back in 2003/2004, when Gisborne residents were outraged by the mountain of cheap, suburban subdivision applications and approvals (not least by VCAT) that overwhelmed the town. 

 

It was a signal moment, because at that time the developers' fever for more and more squeezy lots pointed to Gisborne becoming the "Black Hole of Calcutta", bursting at the seams with a surfeit of people.  Sadly for many of those developers, their greed cut their own throats.  There were so many nasty, over-priced lots that replicated Melbourne instead of reflecting Gisborne, the over-supply of what people don't want soon saw impoverished developers struggling to sell them, and having to build spekkie Melbourne-style houses on the lots in the hope that would move them.  As you do.  And it's only going to get worse with higher petrol prices.  We could commiserate with the developers, but we wouldn't mean it.

 

Latest Community Satisfaction Survey Of Council's Performance Should Start Bells Ringing On Parking and Planning - Alarm Bells!

(10/6/06 - C)  The survey shows Council made slight improvements in Customer Contact and Health and Human Services but Macedon Ranges' residents have said they don't like what's happening in other areas with satisfaction levels slumping to 43% for planning, 54% for community engagement, 46% for local roads and footpaths, and 59% for traffic management and parking.

The 2005/2006 Community Satisfaction Survey for Macedon Ranges was released at Wednesday's Finance and Operations committee meeting. 

 

Council made small performance gains (+1%) over last year in only two areas: Customer Contact (69%) and Health and Human Services (70%).  Enforcement of By-Laws stayed the same (62%). 

 

Overall Performance (58%), Appearance of Public Areas (65%) and Economic Development (55%) all dropped 1%. 

 

Community Engagement (54%), Local Roads and Footpaths (46%) and Waste Management (64%) all fell 2%. 

 

Recreational Facilities (64%) went down 3% while Advocacy (57%) and Traffic Management and Parking tumbled by 4%. 

 

But the winning ticket for biggest drop (and lowest score) was Town Planning Policy and Approvals (43%), which plummeted by 5% from last years unstunning performance.  Click here to see an overview of survey results, or go to Council's website (www.mrsc.vic.gov.au) and download the full report.

 

MRRA Says:

 

How bad is planning in Macedon Ranges? 

 

In this survey, our Shire is included in the 'Large Rural Shires' group.  For that group, Macedon Ranges came in at 43% satisfaction rating, and the lowest rating for the entire group was also 43% - so we can assume Macedon Ranges had the lowest rating.  Here's the punch line:  Also in the Large Rural Shires group is Glenelg Shire.  Yep, the Shire that last year had its planning powers frozen and was under investigation by the Federal Police and the Victorian Auditor General.

 

Community satisfaction with planning in Macedon Ranges is either lower than, or at best, equal to, that in Glenelg Shire. 

 

The area identified by the Macedon Ranges community as needing the most improvement is 'better policies', although if all of the categories that together relate to dissatisfaction with bad outcomes and Council not listening to the community are added together, they get the biscuit.

 

And all the while, the State government keeps telling us there's nothing wrong, or it will not 'usurp' our democratically elected Council, or that 'doing the work' will fix everything.  Sure...

 

 

Council's 'New Residents' Survey and Report Produces Some Surprise Results

(10/6/06 - C)   Why they come here isn't a surprise: rural lifestyle and natural beauty wins hands down.

A report about new residents coming to Macedon Ranges, prepared by Dr. Lorraine Beyer of Council's Social Planning Unit, has produced some interesting findings.  Rural lifestyle and natural beauty were well ahead as reasons why people choose to live/purchase here.  Closeness to Melbourne was well back in 3rd place followed by being near friends and family.  Here's where the surprises started:  affordability and good investment came in at 6th and equal 7th, and even more surprisingly, tree change and retirement followed at equal 7th and 8th.  Adults with no children comprised 67% of new residents, but only 14% relied on pensions.

 

Another surprise was 72% had lived in a rural area before, and 47% have bought a house on more than 0.5 hectares (1 acre) while 8% went for a flat or unit.  Only 45% said they or someone in their household will commute to Melbourne and 51% said they at best would only travel to Melbourne occasionally.  Over a third of survey participants said they planned to use public transport to get to some services in the Shire, even more said they planned to walk, and only 20% said they would use services for children between 0 - 11.

 

MRRA has not been able to find the report on Council's website but anyone wanting more information can contact Council's Community Planning Unit or try Angie Laussel, Manager Community Development, on 03 5427 8249.

 

Council Asks "What Do You Value?" In Update Newsletter Survey

(15/5/06 - C)  Get your two-bob's worth in by completing the survey and sending it back to Council ASAP

Just a brief alert to remind residents to make sure you fill in the survey sheet in the May 2006 Macedon Ranges' Update magazine, being delivered to all Shire households now.  Council is asking for your views on what you most value about living in this area.  It's an opportunity too good to miss, so go to it!   If you need a copy of Update, contact Council on 5422 0333.