Discussion about the effectiveness of public speaking at Council meetings prompted me to float the idea of ‘tidying up’ public speaking.
People had suggested many things to me: that a lot of time is wasted listening to speakers who have a personal issue that is not relevant to the rest of the meeting: that there are other ways for people to engage with Council: that other Councils limit speaking time to items on the agenda: that we should be much more strict on the 3 minute time limit: that Council should be more focussed on doing the business and not be side-tracked by items that can be handled in other ways.
So I floated the idea to prompt discussion amongst the community about how ratepayers can best engage with council.
27 formal responses
I have had 27 ‘formal’ responses, as well as lots of anecdotal discussion and feedback. Of the 27, 18 felt that some ‘tidying up’ would be useful, 5 (if I include this article) have said ‘leave things as they are’, and 4 suggest we should be careful to preserve the status quo, if we make any changes at all.
I appreciate the balanced and considered nature of this article, as I appreciate all the feedback. No decisions have been made yet.
I have 3 meetings this coming week, with concerned citizens and ratepayers, anxious to ensure that they will always have a voice at public speaking if they so desire.
‘Something I can promise’
That is something I can promise. People have a right to speak to council at public speaking time, and that right will always be maintained.
Last Thursday, we had about 14 speakers at public speaking, and it took 2 and a half hours.
In November we had a meeting that had 21 speakers and took, I think, nearly 3 hours. Some if the issues raised could have been more effectively dealt with in other ways.
So what I’m trying to achieve is a more effective use of time, and a better way of responding to ratepayer concerns.
Your article offers some positive ways forward. You’re right, Adrian Webster was a superb chair and I wish I had his skills. The Chair does have the same controls and options – hopefully I’m learning.
Yes we do sometimes need to take criticism. I do spend some time in the foyer, I do meet as many people as I can, and we are looking at maybe councillor workshops as an option.
Your article also raises legitimate concerns, some of which have been expressed to me by others already.
As a result of all this feedback, and from the feedback I believe I will hear at the meetings I have this week, it is very likely that the status quo will be maintained. That is, that we will not (as other councils do) restrict public speaking time to just the agenda items.
One thing for sure Alan: you’re right when you say that free public speaking is one of the great traditions on the Kapiti Coast.
I have no intention of changing that. We (Council) need to find better and easier ways to work with people. All of your suggestions and comments will be fed into the mix, and I’m sure that we as a council will find ways to improve our service to ratepayers.
I encourage your readers to forward any helpful suggestions they may have.