In this post we feature council’s results for Town Planning from the 2014/15 and 2016/17 Best Value Reports. Each of these reports is supposed to reveal what value for money residents are achieving from the services provided by councils. ‘Quality & Cost Standards’ are the criteria this is to be judged on. When we look at the criteria chosen by Glen Eira Council we find that they are literally meaningless and certainly do not reveal how well our hard earned money is being spent.

For example:

‘Acceptance of policies by community’ is to be evaluated by the percentage of community objections to applications. Why the ‘standard’ is set at 2 percent is anyone’s guess. More importantly, given the increased costs at VCAT, the time and effort taken to appeal, and residents’ negative perceptions as to VCAT’s ‘objectivity’, it is no wonder that there are fewer objections from residents rather than developers. But does this mean that the community ‘accepts’ council’s policies? And what of developers themselves? Some are surely locals. Why doesn’t council judge the ‘acceptance’ of its policies by the entire objector base rather than immediate neighbours? Plus, of course, the number of objections reveals absolutely nothing about the adequacy of council’s decision making to begin with. How many applicants object to council’s decisions and imposed conditions because they are in conflict with the planning scheme itself, or simply erroneous? We’ve had plenty of VCAT decisions that go in favour of the developer because of such incompetence. And then of course we get the impasse of less than half of respondents being satisfied with council’s town planning and yet the same policies remain year after year with no attempt to address the real issue – abysmal strategic planning!

Until we achieve standards that actually mean something and tell the whole story, the Best Value reports remain nothing more than another exercise in spin, self promotion, and obfuscation!