QLDC councillor: 'We are being shielded from the community'

by Peter Newport - Mar 14, 2024

A Queenstown Lakes District councillor has told Crux that elected members are being denied access to community survey results that are critical of the council.

Councillor Niki Gladding recently asked for access to the raw data behind the QLDC Quality of Life survey that gave the council a record low community satisfaction score of 15 percent. But a number of survey comments were removed by council staff.

The comments being removed are ones that mention any particular councillor or council staff member.

"I think the staff are building a tent around the councillors. I think most of the councillors are very open to some negative feedback and into fixing stuff, don't get me wrong. But the council is building this tent. The council is shielding us from the community.

"The thing is, it, it doesn't help us to do better and it shields us from the way the community is feeling about us as individuals and as a group. 

"I'm certain that there will be comments in there around our collective governance and we don't <laugh> we don't get to see those."

Councillor Gladding also says that councillors don't have the opportunity to have meetings among themselves or with chief executive Mike Theelen without being "supervised" by council staff.

"We are always supervised there's always an element of being directed or led or redirected by staff. There's never that free time just to, just to say something and not have a staff member say something back."

The Dunedin City Council regularly facilitates meetings where elected councillors are free to talk openly between themselves, and with their chief executive, without council staff intervention.

Councillor Gladding has made three, so far unsuccessful, attempts to organise a council workshop around the results of both the QLDC Quality of Life survey and the Crux survey on how to address debt and trust issues within the QLDC.

"The community should come first and not the agenda, not past direction. What the community is feeling at the moment has to count regardless of the plans that were made in the past. That's what's not happening. We're not being flexible and not recognising the shift in the community."

Read more:

Record low 15 percent satisfaction in QLDC survey

Community backs cost cutting and departure of CEO in Crux survey

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