Last week’s notes on CCC’s Staff survey were one of the most read articles we have ever produced. People are worried about CCC and how it is being led, both at elected Council and CE levels. In case you missed it here is a link https://tuesdayclub.nz/garry-writes-9-may-2023/. It’s significant that 25% more staff responded to this survey than the previous year, but the overall dial of staff satisfaction did not shift.
The Resident’s Survey is always available around this time of the year. So, we were pleased to hear on Tuesday that the Councillors had received a briefing on the results.
The Survey of Citizens has been undertaken for decades and interviews a different set of respondents each year. When I was at the Council, as soon as she received them the person responsible for the results walked down the corridor and dropped a copy of them in the Mayor and Councillors boxes, and on the desks of the CE and the General and Unit Managers. There was no secrecy and no withholding of information. We all then soaked up the results and acted on them. They partially drove decisions for the Annual Plan. I assume that’s still the case.
So, on Tuesday as CCC obviously had the results for this year, I wrote to the Council: I wonder if I could have a copy of the presentation which was provided to the Councillors today on the Citizen’s Survey. Could I also ask for a copy of the complete results.
I received the following response: staff say the findings will be publicly released at the end of the month.
Bearing in mind that this is a public document and that there should be no secrecy toward the document I then asked:
If there are slides which the Councillors saw yesterday, why can I not have them now? Which part of the Local Government Act is being used to refuse this being available? If they have been produced, then they are a public document already.
To which I received the following response:
Council is not withholding any information as per your response. Yesterday was an initial discussion with Council and final results will be made public later this month in a public meeting (F&P/Council).
We have decided to refuse your request under the following section of the LGOIMA – 17(d) – the information requested is or will soon be publicly available
I don’t think this response is very helpful. In the guidelines to the Local Government Official Information Act it states:
While it is good practice for agencies to publish information released in response to an OIA request, this should not delay release of the information to the requester.
I don’t think the “initial discussion” is an excuse to decline my request. Stating that it’s an “initial discussion” is playing with words. We should assume that the “initial discussion” was based on correct information. Is the question we should ask, does the executive want extra time to guild the lily?
Fortunately, the numbers have leaked already. They are 1% greater than last year. That’s within the margin of error. In essence the public attitude toward CCC has hardened if anything.
A year ago, Dawn Baxendale said to the elected reps about the staff survey, which this year has not improved as well:
“ELT is taking the results of the survey seriously and together we have done some soul-searching around our own behaviours and the way in which these are perceived. We have re-committed to being the best team we can be and to continuing to build our relationships.”
We can therefore assume that she was implying that the Citizen’s Survey was also being addressed with the same vigor. These survey results, with both staff and residents, demonstrate that relationships are seriously bad.
A year ago, a senior, unnamed, manager who had left CCC commented in Newsroom: “Dawn’s good at managing the politicians but she’s lost the three groups that she actually serves – which are the public, business, and customers of council.”
Here’s a graph of the Citizen’s Survey from my last year as Mayor to today. I have assumed that the latest number leaked to a member of the public and then supplied to me is correct.
An analysis of these results indicate that the normal level of support would be in the 70%’s acceptability for CCC. They dropped after the earthquakes when everybody was disillusioned with everything and there was a major uprising against Tony Marryatt’s salary level. They rose again to 62% in 2019. They have continued to decline significantly over the past 4 years.
A friend of mine used to have a sign in his office which read:
“Do not adjust your mind. Reality may be at fault.”
Elected reps you have received a poor result from the staff survey followed by the ratepayers of this city saying the same thing for 2 years. Ignore these results at your peril.