Community gardens policy

Today’s Bay of Plenty Times carries a public notice from Western Bay of Plenty District Council that may be of interest – Draft Community Gardens and Planting of Fruit and Nut Trees Policy. Yeah, it’s another catchy title.

The notice says that “we are seeking your views” on the proposed policy. Find the draft document here, ask for it at Barkes Corner or a Western Bay library, phone John Raputu 579 6649 or email him.

Submissions close at 4pm on June 19, so that’s plenty of thinking time.

Don’t be put off by the idea of making a submission. All the council wants to know is what you think of the idea. Are you for it, or against it? (Don’t make the mistake of assuming everyone will think like you do, not submitting and finding that the opposite of what you want becomes enshrined as policy.)

Write out what you think, and why you think it. Have you seen/experienced a similar policy elsewhere? If you’re a practical sort of person put down the common sense advantages/disadvantages of pursuing such a policy. They’re not wanting War and Peace so it’s fine to be succinct just be sure your submission makes sense.

There’s an option on the form “to be heard in support of your submission”. That means turning up on the day and time that will be alloted to you after all submissions are in and talking about your submission. Generally, speakers are allocated 5-10 minutes. The councillors don’t want you to read your submission to them, rather they want to hear it summarised and for you to state your views or any extra points more fully. They may ask questions. Don’t worry if they don’t, it just means they’ve got it.

The meeting room at Barkes Corner is big and the councillors sit in a horseshoe shape with the mayor directly facing you at one end. They try very hard not to be intimidating because they realise that the whole thing is if you’re not used to it.

And it is! I’ve spoken in support of submissions several times and have never felt entirely comfortable. The best you can do is take a deep breath, get your thoughts in order, speak slowly and clearly. Don’t ramble – they hate that cause you’re likely to run over time, and, even worse from your point of view, some of them will stop listening.

But you don’t have to tick that box. Your submission is given no less weight if you choose not to speak in support of it.

Remember though, that the silent majority rarely wins!

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