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Complaints run high at Council

Monday, 23rd November, 2009

Central Darling Shire Council has been named and shamed by the NSW Government for receiving a large number of complaints. The council is among 27 NSW councils which received the most number of complaints in 2008/09, according to figures released by Local Government Minister, Barbara Perry. A total of 17 complaints were received by the council, according to the figures, compared to just two for the previous year. Shoalhaven City Council topped the list with 75 complaints, Gosford City Council was second with 48 complaints, and Tweed Shire Council was third highest with 40 complaints. While Central Darling Shire Council is the largest Local Government Area in the State, it has one of the smallest populations, with just 2000 residents. Just 21 councils out of a total of 152 councils received more than half of all complaints in the past year, according to the figures. Ms Perry said more than 1200 complaints were received by the Division of Local Government during the 08/09 financial year. "It's very concerning that such a relatively small number of councils account for more than half of the 1200 complaints received," she said. "We know that most councils do a good job but they need to remember at all times to work in the interests of their community." The Division of Local Government works to ensure councils continue to provide a high level of service to ratepayers and council decisions are made lawfully and within reasonable time periods, Ms Perry said. "Complaints can alert the Division to instances when proper processes have not been adhered to or services are lacking, so if you have a complaint, I'd strongly encourage you to contact the Division of Local Government." Information obtained from complaints can assist both councils and the Division in identifying and addressing emerging trends or areas of concern that need improvement.

"Complaints can help measure community satisfaction with council decisions and can also provide a useful source of information and feedback for improving a council's services. "It's also important to recognise that while there are a minority of councils that continue to receive large amounts of criticisms, the number of complaints against councils overall is down on last year." Complaints received by the Division of Local Government covered the range of functions local councils undertake including councils' planning, governance and enforcement roles.

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