By HEATHER SMITH
WITH Wollongong City Council’s consultation process for the future of Bald Hill coming to a close, Neighbourhood Forum 1 has thrown a spanner in the works, launching a survey of its own.
Sub-committee chairman Warwick Erwin told last night’s NF1 meeting in Helensburgh that the few hundred people who had been involved in last week’s workshops and weekend information sessions were not representative.
“Let’s go out to the whole of the community and, if we want Bald Hill kept the way it is, we have to say we want it the way it is,” he said. “If you don’t have a say, you can’t argue with what you end up with.”
A survey will be distributed to every household in the 2508 area seeking feedback, stickers with “We love Bald Hill” have been distributed and a website has been established (www.baldhill.com.au).
Mr Erwin said funding for the 5000 surveys, 2500 stickers and website were donated by local residents, with the total effort costing less than $1000.
“We’ve put this together with volunteer labour yet the Council has spent thousands of dollars of our money – we don’t know how much because they won’t tell us – engaging the outside consultants ARUP,” he said.
Completed surveys will be accepted until June 13 – outside council’s engagement schedule but within the timeframe for the consultants to come back to the community in about five or six weeks with a range of options.
“Our goal is to get 10,000 responses to the survey,” Mr Erwin said. “Then we have a good cross-section of the community.
“If we get a good response, Council has to listen.”
Ward 1 councillor Leigh Colacino, who moved the motion to go back to the drawing board after initial concept plans were presented last September, said the consultation proposed by the NF1 sub-committee could “muddy the waters”.
“Council has gone out of its way to consult with the community and the outcome will be a genuine result,” he said.
Cr Colacino said ARUP had been engaged as an independent consultant and had no agenda. “No-one at council would be that condescending to treat the process with contempt.”
He questioned who would be compiling the NF1 survey results. “I would be very concerned about the outcomes received – are they reliable? And how do we know if some responses have been eliminated?”
Online surveys can be found at http://baldhill.com.au/survey
Mr Erwin is seeking volunteers to hand out more surveys and stickers at Bald Hill, particularly on weekends. To participate, please phone 0419 413 935 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To add your comments to the council's interactive map, click on the ad on Northern Exposure's website or go to www.collaborativemap.org/baldhill