CITY of Melville and its council are facing a mountain of work to re-connect with its community, despite the local government scoring highly as a place to live in a recent survey.About 466 Melville residents replied to the biennial Community Perception Survey undertaken by Catalyse, with 100 per cent of respondents rating the City as “ok”, “good” or “excellent” as a location to call home.
But although 80 per cent of respondents answered “ok” or better when asked how satisfied they were with the City of Melville, aspects of the City’s governance were put to the sword.
In results that were not completely surprising to the City, considering the ongoing Authorised Inquiry, just 22 per cent of respondents agreed Melville council understood the needs of residents.
The figure was well down on 2016 (48 per cent) and back near 2006 levels (21 per cent).
City staff did not fare much better with less than one third of respondents agreeing that Melville employees understood the needs of the community.
The City also scored poorly when it came to communicating its vision for the area (29 per cent satisfaction) and its work explaining decisions and how residents’ views were taken into account (26 per cent).
Council leadership generated a 64 per cent satisfaction rating, while Melville’s image returned a result of 74 per cent, 15 per cent down on 2016.
Governance was also an area for improvement in a survey of 106 businesses, despite 96 per cent rating the City positively as a place to operate.
Just one in three (34 per cent) businesses believed the City had a good understanding of issues facing them while nearly half (47 per cent) believed the City had a clear vision for the area.
Mayor Russell Aubrey said the ongoing inquiry by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) had knocked the community’s confidence.
“We know where that negative part comes from,” he said.
“We’ll be relying on the inquiry team to put the community’s mind to rest.”
Mr Aubrey reiterated his confidence the inquiry would be concluded soon and that the City would be given the all clear.
He added the City would “look to the (Local Government) Minister for support” when the inquiry was over.
A finish date for the investigation remains unclear, with a spokeswoman for DLGSC saying that “while all efforts are made to ensure it is completed as expeditiously as possible, it would not be appropriate to predict a timeframe for the completion”.
A spokesman for the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association, possibly the loudest voice against the City’s dealings, said the low governance score was unsurprising.
“The latest survey results confirm that the Authorised Inquiry is justified,” he said in a statement.
“It is just another nail in the coffin.
“We continue to lobby for the Authorised Inquiry to wrapped up soon, commissioners appointed and a full blown public inquiry to be initiated along the same lines of the City of Perth.”
The City did have some wins during the survey, leading the industry in graffiti removal, its online engagement tool Melville Talks, and street lighting.
When placed against local governments with more than 80,000 residents, the City was also up front when it came to safety and security, sport and recreation facilities and services and facilities and care for seniors.
Despite the stigma of the inquiry, Mr Aubrey said it was important people were happy to live in the City.