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Surf Coast Shire Council Citizens’ Juries on Roads Management

The Coast Shire Council Citizens’ Juries on Roads Management was convened by Surf Coast Shire Council, Victoria in 2007. Dr. Annie Bolitho shared this case study with NCDD, and it can also be found on her website here.

Surf Coast Shire Council approached Annie Bolitho to design and facilitate a Citizens’ Jury in 2007, after an unsuccessful attempt to upgrade roads and drainage in a local community. The community and Council were not in agreement regarding the scope of works, or a ‘special charge’ which would be involved over and above normal rates, resulting in VECAT proceedings. Yet action was required to improve roads and drainage. After consultation with Annie, and a series of stakeholder meetings, a citizens’ jury was convened in 2007 to make recommendations on the scope of works.

The Key Question or Charge: In Precinct X, what road and drainage works do we want/need/can afford which preserves/enhances the environment?

Outcome: the recommendations of Jury 1, made on a precinct wide basis, were adopted by Surf Coast Shire Council. Further VECAT proceedings and deterioration of relationships were avoided. A second jury took place in 2008. Jury 2’s recommendations were made street by street, and were reviewed by the Council and the expert witnesses and brought back to the jury in modified form before being implemented.

Jury 1 won the IAP2 award for enhanced decision making. ‘An excellent use of stratified random sampling to tap into “beyond the usual suspects”. Surf Coast Council should be congratulated for their innovative approach and for power sharing and showing trust in the community. This process had clear feedback and evaluation mechanism.’

Approach:  The steering group convened by Council consisted of Councillors, Council officers from Community Engagement and Infrastructure, community representatives and academics. The steering group met 3 times in preparation for the Jury and their work involved:

  • deciding on the precinct area for the first jury
  • characteristics for participant recruitment
  • the key question or Charge
  • choice of expert witnesses.

The jury met for three days, did a site tour, and heard from expert witnesses on issues relating to road engineering, catchment contamination, community concerns and the calculation of special charges.

Expert witnesses at these juries:

  • Roger Taylor, External Consultant
  • Aireys Inlet and District Assoc Inc. representatives
  • GHD Consulting representative
  • George  Giumarra, Rural Roads Research Board
  • Val Mag, StormyWater Solutions
  • Richard Bain, Surf Coast Shire Council
  • Aireys Inlet Neighbourhood

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