MELVILLE council has taken steps to improve its engagement with ratepayers as a government inquiry into the city rumbles past the 12-month mark.
On Tuesday councillors unanimously passed a stakeholder engagement strategy, with a staff report citing the inquiry and a review of the local government act as reasons to review its policies.
In November last year the McGowan government announced the inquiry into governance issues at Melville following almost 300 complaints to the local government department since 2014.
One year on and there’s no end in sight for the inquiry, with a frustrated mayor Russell Aubrey telling the West Australian the city’s reputation was being damaged.
“The City has been stymied by the scope of the inquiry. It means we haven’t been able to respond to many of the public’s questions – because of limitations (of the inquiry) – and the image of the City has been somewhat downgraded,” Mr Aubrey told the West.
Former Melville council CEO Shayne Silcox, who retired in July, had said the complaints were mostly generated by a small group of vociferous ratepayers, who clogged-up council’s administration with incessant complaints and requests for information.
Mr Silcox’s claim is backed by various surveys in the city’s latest annual report, which show high levels of resident and business satisfaction.
A community perception survey revealed 80 per cent of residents and 86 per cent of businesses were satisfied with the City of Melville as a governing organisation.
Every resident surveyed said they were satisfied with Melville as a place to live, with 93 per cent satisfied with community buildings.
The city’s engagement website, Melville Talks, has more than 4000 registered users and over 26,000 people have visited the site.
However critics say protests over the city’s approval of a proposed $25 million wave park in Alfred Cove, which would involve relocating Melville Bowling Club, and plans to redevelop Shirley Strickland Reserve, show the city is out of touch with large swathes of ratepayers.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK