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Flood of feedback as submissions triple

Flood of feedback as submissions triple

Ashburton's council went seeking the views of the community and have been swamped with submissions.

The Ashburton District Council went with a wide-ranging community engagement strategy for its draft long-term plan consultation and has received 1525 submissions, three times as many as the 2021 long-term plan.

Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown said he was pleased with the community response after the council tried a different tactic this year, holding over 30 public engagement events in a month to seek the opinions of the community.

“We're thrilled by the response from the community, not just because of the total, but also the broad spectrum of people we've heard from,” Brown said.

“We've received feedback from all age groups, and from many people who we don't typically see engaging with council consultations.”

The other factor driving a large number of submissions was the council’s five key decisions.

The questions around kerbside green waste collection and what pool to spend $3 million on received the most feedback, each receiving around 1310 submissions, Brown said.

The future of the Balmoral Hall and the old Polytech land had 1262 responses and 1189 answered the council questions on whether it should get out of delivering stockwater.

A proposed extension of the EA Networks Centre stadium received 1239 responses while there were also 68 submissions on the draft 30-year master plan for EA Networks Centre, which sets out the future development of a sporting hub for the district.

In addition to the five key issues, roading, the second bridge, and the council's spending priorities also emerged as popular discussion points, Brown said.

“Councillors have been reading through the feedback as it's arrived, and we will read every submission before deliberations begin on May 20.

The council will hear from 119 submitters who indicated they will speak to their submissions at the hearings, scheduled for May 13-16 that will be live-streamed.

The council will then deliberate on all the feedback from May 20-23, also live-streamed, and make any changes to the plan before it is adopted on June 26.

Democracy and engagement group manager Toni Durham said the consultation process is budgeted to cost $35,000, which “is on par with previous LTP engagements”.

The feedback from the public and the elected members around the engagement strategy has been largely positive, Durham said.

“We'll take some time after the conclusion of the LTP process to consider what worked well and what can be improved for next time, but broadly speaking, we're really pleased with how the last few weeks have gone.

“We also want to extend our gratitude to the many community groups and organisations that invited us to speak and helped spread the word.”

By Jonathan Leask