By Edmund Kirkwood
Allegations have arisen that City of Sydney has reduced the number of community forums held with the public.
Yimmy Seifert, a member of the local interest group Ultimo Village Voice has claimed there has been no general community consultation for at least 12 months.
Ms Seifert also said that there have been no open-floor style public forums, where residents can ask councillors and the Lord Mayor a question on any topic they found to be important.
“It was good in the beginning, but there have been less and less of those forums in the past while,” Seifert said.
These forums were launched by the Lord Mayor in 2004.
In June of 2004, the Lord Mayor said: “These forums are an opportunity for residents and businesses to hear about the work of the City in their local area, and allow them to contribute to the planning and development of their neighbourhood.”
“We want to hear constructive suggestions and opinions, and we will be taking these on board and actioning them.”
City Hub has been informed this week that the community forums were stopped by council due to poor attendance.
“The City found diminishing numbers of people attending unstructured meetings that had no clear purpose,” A City spokesperson said.
City of Sydney councillor Linda Scott agreed that that particularly type of forum – in which councillors and the Lord Mayor field questions from residents – has ceased.
“Holding public meetings is very important and should be done more in the City of Sydney. I think the council could and should do more.”
Ms Seifert criticised the amount of issue based forums occurring, claiming that they only reflect the thoughts and wishes of the council, and not that of the residents and community.
“I want a forum where you can raise what you think is important and not what they think is important. Otherwise they’re not true community forums.”
Tom Rostron, a local resident of Chippendale, has noticed less general community consultation and is disappointed by lack of open-floor style forums.
“They were a great way to talk to your local council and to ask them questions and raise issues that you as a resident thought were important,” Mr Rostron said.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore strongly rejected any allegation that the council does less consultation with the community that it did previously.
“When there is a need, such as communities facing big changes, we have regular broad face-to-face engagement opportunities. This is the case in Green Square, Millers Point and Harold Park,” the Lord Mayor said.
“The City consults as much now as it ever has, and our process is much more targeted than in the past, providing higher value for both the community and the City.”