Gore residents loud over perceived leadership deficit

9:24 pm on 10 June 2021

The Gore District Council needs to "do better" to win back the confidence of the community.

The results of a Gore residents survey show confidence in leadership is at a five year low.

The results of a Gore residents survey show confidence in leadership is at a five year low. Photo: Wikicommons

That's the message from Mayor Tracy Hicks following the results of a residents' survey which shows confidence in the mayor and council is at its lowest point in five years.

The results were based on more than 600 individual responses collected by both telephone and online submission.

Out of those who responded, only 38 percent felt the mayor and councillors displayed sound and effective leadership. Only 35 percent felt the council had good strategies for developing prosperity and well being.

Both of those scores were a decrease of 10 and 9 percent respectively from last year, and the lowest scores in at least five years.

Hicks joked that the results were "stunning", saying his council was not proud of them.

"Generally across the board, it was a pretty good reflection about what people think of council. I think there's a number of areas we can do a whole lot better in."

He put the low results down to a combination of society being "generally more sceptical of authority" and Gore-specific issues.

Those included recent changes to Gore waste management, a controversial bridge project, and the Streets Alive project which recently sparked an outcry.

Streets Alive was a $1 million roading project that began rolling out in March with the majority of funding coming from Waka Kotahi / NZ Transport Agency.

Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks.

Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks. Photo: Gore District Council

The trial was met with widespread indignation over council's allocation of funding and sparked controversy when street-calming planter boxes were repeatedly vandalised.

On Wednesday night, councillors voted to pull the pin early on some of the trial's installations.

A Gore resident who did not want to be named said he was not surprised by the results of the annual survey.

Pointing to recent controversies over the Mataura River bridge proposal coupled with Streets Alive, the resident said ratepayers were upset at money being spent "willy-nilly".

"A lot of them are saying it's very easy to spend other people's money. People are doing it hard."

Other results included 47 percent of participants agreeing council provides enough opportunities for people to have their say, and 68 percent satisfied with the overall performance of council.

Sixty-three percent were satisfied council was responding to needs and issues raised in the community.

The highest level of satisfaction was around the accessibility of elected members, with 87 percent saying they were satisfied.

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