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HomeIssue 26Candidate's survey reveals the town's likes and dislikes

Candidate’s survey reveals the town’s likes and dislikes

By OSCAR PERRI

Alice Springs residents want kerbside recycling, are unhappy with the management of roads, footpaths and parks and think council should have a hand in addressing youth issues.

This is according to the 262 people who responded to a survey put together by council election candidate Kim Hopper, who has shared the data with the Alice Springs News.

Ms Hopper has had positive feedback from voters about the survey, who have told her that they are pleased to have a candidate making an effort to hear what they want from council.

“For me it proves that people want to have a say, they want to feel like they’ve been consulted and it’d be great to see council take that on a bit more,” she says.

The three questions asked are:–

How can Alice Springs Town Council work better for your HOUSEHOLD? (eg. recycling, verge-management)?

For your NEIGHBOURHOOD? (eg. road speeds, paths, lighting)?

For our TOWN? (eg. significant issues that Council can help improve)?

While the responses only make up around 3% of the expected 8500 voters, the survey still provides a valuable resource.

It also far outdoes council itself on community feedback, which received zero input from the community on the budget draft, and “very low” feedback on the library redevelopment community engagement.

This was highlighted in responses to the third question, council’s need to improve its engagement with the public, organisations, and the NT government was the third most mentioned topic, after youth issues and climate and environmental action.

Around half of the responses mentioned youth issues, crime and public safety, but only 15 responses mentioned introducing a curfew, while 37 supported youth facilities, programs and activities to address the issue.

Ms Hopper (pictured) says that while crime is having a big impact on the community, the responses show that there are other issues that people care about that council also needs to pay attention to.

“I’m not downplaying what’s happening in town, but [crime] can extremely dominate the conversation, so you don’t get to have a nuanced conversation about other stuff.

“It is an issue, we do need to work on it and we do need to collaborate better with everybody, but let’s not lose our heads, or our focus over the other stuff.”

There was little mention of major projects in the responses, with only five wanting movement on the national Aboriginal art gallery and 11 for the proposed library upgrade.

Ms Hopper says she thinks this is because residents are more concerned about council getting “the basics” right first. However, council should be able to do both at the same time.

“I think people don’t really know much about those big projects and also what the capacity of council to support those projects is.

“There’s a role there that the next council needs to play, about this visioning for a 10 year plan that has some of those big projects in there to get people excited about, but for people to know that it’s not going to mean that the footpaths don’t get looked after.”

She says that other projects that are more about the town functioning better, like flood mitigation upgrades, are also important, but she needs to get into council first to see where the conversation around those are at.

The dump bursting at the seams and no progress with fully recycling sewage instead of evaporating billions of litres of water and using huge amounts of real estate in a prime location don’t get a mention from the survey respondents.

The library project and an overhaul of the recycling system is what she is passionate about making happen if elected, says Ms Hopper.

“Partnerships are going to be key to getting a lot of this stuff done. I think the first thing is the engagement with the community and identifying the projects and identifying what’s already happening and what the opportunities are. And then it’s about building on those partnerships.”

More than three quarters of responses to the first question were in favour of kerbside recycling collection.

Ms Hopper says while this may be skewed by it being one of her election issues, it shows an appetite in the community for council to work on improving their waste management, especially in regards to recycling.

Better upkeep and expansion of the town’s footpaths and bike paths dominated the responses to the second question, and around 50 responses wanted council to improve road safety, reducing speed limits, adding more speed humps, and fixing damage to roads.

Around a quarter of the responses to this question want council to take better care of parks, and plant more trees there and in other parts of the town.

Ms Hopper says she did not realise fully fenced-off dog parks, road and bike safety were major issues before she conducted the survey.

She says that this is a good example of why council needs to work on their community engagement, to find out what people want that may not be immediately obvious.

“We sometimes think that people don’t have the time or don’t care enough to get engaged, but I think if you make it simple and easy and accessible for people then they will, and they are interested in what happens in our town.

“I also like it because it’s written documentation, a really tangible thing that you can hold in your hand and know what people want.”

PHOTO at top: The standards of roads and footpaths are a major concern for voters but a survey by candidate Kim Hopper shows the town’s people want their council to become active in a much broader range of issues.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Kim Hopper’s survey shows how out of touch most candidates are with ratepayers.
    The survey finds that council should work to address youth issues but Eli Melky’s curfew is not supported.
    Programs such as fixing the skatepark would be supported but no mention of it.
    Alleviate Aboriginal policy?
    The council to drive regional development?
    These policies from Blair McFarlane and Jimmy Cocking simply do not resonate with ratepayers.
    The mayor has just one vote. Candidates are not running to be the Chief Minister.
    Get the basics right is the message from the survey.
    Engagement with the public, mending fences with the NT Government, standards of roads and footpaths, dog parks, recycling, bike safety and street trees are real issues.
    They hardly get a mention.
    If candidates are unable to listen to the community now what hope is there for the next council?
    Well done for your survey, Kim Hopper.
    Corinne Milich
    Lindsay Ave, Alice Springs.

  2. I’d be happy to offer more feed back to Council if I had easier avenues. With no local paper, and as a dedicated non-user of Facebook, I often don’t hear about requests for feedback until it’s too late. Yes, I support the redevelopment of the library, no, I didn’t know there was a request for feedback on the budget. It’s not enough to plonk it on a Council website / Facebook page because the message needs to be pushed.
    I only found out about Ms Hopper’s survey as a friend passed it on.

    [Hi Elizabeth, it might be a good idea for you to read the Alice Springs News more regularly. We have been a local paper for 27 years. Now we are the only local paper. We have a huge coverage of the town council, 22,000 readers and a fully searchable story archive of seven million words. See you soon! Erwin Chlanda, Editor]

  3. I agree Erwin, however Elisabeth is correct, as not everybody has access to internet daily.
    A lot of events in this town are advertised after they have been done.
    It is the same for the alerts on the covid – how do know?
    We need a town crier.

  4. Corinne, a curfew is not a permanent solution, it is the equivalent of the lockdown used to control covid-19.
    No more than we are we considering lockdown for ever, should we think of a perpetual curfew?
    The word C_U_R_F_E_W stands for Children Under Responsible Family Elders Watch.
    The slogan was designed by Aboriginal elders who have enough of their kin being on the streets misbehaving.
    Which means that children will be allowed to be out at night if they are with adults.
    Quod erat demonstrandum.

  5. @ Corinne Milich: Yes, getting the basics right was supported in the survey and the priority before tackling anything else.
    The problem is that elected members have little or no control over the basics because they are ‘operational’.
    For example, the elected members wanted solar lights in the CBD and got the hideous ones we see in Hartley St.
    Elected members wanted park improvements and got the Tucker Park in Braitling, hideously and dangerously downgraded at our expense.
    Elected members wanted the skatepark maintained and received a dangerous slippery paint makeover that has led to its indefinite closure. When and how it will be resurfaced is an operational matter.
    To some extent councillors can instruct council CEO Jennings but they can’t tell him how to do things or give him a timeline.
    Regrettably, while ratepayers in the survey want better upkeep of the town’s footpaths and bike tracks and fixing damaged roads these matters are ultimately up to the council rather than elected members.
    Therein lies the dysfunction at the heart of the council.
    Ralph Folds
    Cassia Ct, Alice Springs.

  6. @ Evelyne Roulette, Eli Melky needs to explain exactly how a curfew would operate and what it will cost ratepayers.
    He has not done this.
    It’s all very well to saturate the town with signs shouting “curfew” but where is the costing?
    And this is from a candidate who claims he is fiscally responsible.
    The police will not enforce a curfew.
    That leaves the Ranger Unit but would require many more rangers.
    They would be working at night time, so expensive.
    Are they trained for the specialised work of handling youth?
    Would they be effective? I doubt it, the kids would run rings around them, they would happily play hide and seek all night long.
    Blair McFarlane has warned that there is no point in the council getting tough with the local youth because they are far tougher than anything the council can throw at them.
    Over to Eli now.
    Explain how this would work and what it would cost, please?
    Corinne Milich
    Lindsay Ave, Alice Springs

  7. When I lived in Alice it often seemed like you had to be born with knowledge of upcoming events to be aware of them. Organisers definitely need to think about promotion of their events.

  8. @ Corinne Milich: I did not answer your comment about the cost of the CURFEW because I did not want a debate. You have your opinion and I respected it.
    But I do not think it will cost more than all those different children agencies that have been operated for decades and have achieved little.
    We, long time residents, have lost our freedom from fear. We went from low fences to high barricades, and opened house and car, from locks and security cameras.
    I do not believe that young kids as young as six should be roaming the streets at night. Are you not concerned for their welfare?
    I have raised four children in Alice, and teenagers on the streets at night were aged 14 or 15. We are now talking of very young children. Those agencies have achieved nothing.
    How much do they cost rates and taxes payers?

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