Consulting with you under COVID-19
COVID-19 is challenging us all in so many ways – including how we get your feedback on important issues like the Representation Review.
We’re currently consulting on a different council model for next year’s local body elections. This is about the number and location of wards and how many councillors we have, whether they’re elected locally (by ward) or district wide, and if we have community boards or not.
The way you and your community are represented on Council goes to the heart of our local democracy. Your views matter to us. They help us make better decisions and alert us to ideas or issues we haven’t picked up through existing evidence or research.
In normal times Council uses a variety of channels to give you a choice of ways to have your say. But under COVID-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3 we can’t provide the face-to-face or paper-based options some people prefer. We know not everyone is computer savvy or has access to a computer, so we do our best to provide alternative methods.
Under heightened alert levels people – including our staff – are more distracted, juggling working from home with home-schooling or feeling isolated and focused on health and family concerns. It’s more difficult to get your attention and engage with you.
But it’s not as simple as delaying our consultation until things return to normal. Some issues we consult on, like the Representation Review, are operating to legislative deadlines that we can’t miss, or the decisions will be taken out of our hands.
Instead, we’ve planned to consult as best we can under the different alert levels – that’s why you’ll see some additional approaches this time. When consultation began we were at Alert Level 3. We moved quickly to organise printed copies of the consultation document to be inserted in some local papers in response to the closure of our libraries and service centres, and lack of face-to-face opportunities. In addition to our Council website and our online engagement tool – Have Your Say/Kōrero Mai – we’ve also provided an online form for those who prefer to download a document to their desktop that can be returned to us by email or printed and posted. We’re also boosting our social media and radio advertising to let people know what’s going on.
Now we’re at Alert Level 2 things are easier, and we’ll put copies of the document and drop boxes for submissions in our libraries and service centres as usual. With Delta we’re still being extra cautious about face-to-face events, but we’ll re-consider if conditions allow, so keep an eye on our social media and website, local radio, and newspapers to find out what we're planning.
Whichever alert level we’re in, the best way to reach us is online. Our Have Your Say/Kōrero Mai engagement tool is used around the world to help communities engage better with government.
Online engagement lets you have your say when and where it suits you, rather than having to attend scheduled public meetings. It can reach more people more quickly; it's a quick and secure way to get involved. You can save your submission and go back to it when it suits. Have Your Say allows you to stay informed about the projects that interest you, and you can follow projects as they progress. Once you’re registered it keeps you updated on new engagement and consultation opportunities. Behind the scenes, it makes it easy for us to collate and accurately report on your feedback, and ensure your privacy.
So if you have access to a computer, give it a go. You might be surprised at how simple it is, and we’ll help you with any queries on how to set it up – just email [email protected]. For questions about the Representation Review email [email protected].