Vibrant enlists aid in row with council

The stoush between Vibrant and the Invercargill City Council has reached a new level after the inner city organisation recruited outside help to dispute council claims.

Vibrant's outlook hangs in the balance with the council's draft annual plan calling for public input on its future.

In February, the Vibrant board commissioned an independent consultant to review the results of the Council's City Centre Occupier and Ratepayer 2013 survey, which was reported to have found most respondents wanted the council to provide the services currently undertaken by Vibrant.

Vibrant chairman Philip Todd said the review of the survey by Christchurch consultant Hughan Ross showed the survey was not independent and therefore could have influenced results.

Ross found the survey was designed, distributed, collected and analysed by the council.

The respondents knew this and that fact could have had an influence on responses, he said.

The survey results appear to have been interpreted loosely and, in some cases, incorrectly and it was entirely possible they did not accurately reflect the opinion of the ratepayers and occupiers because of the common sources of bias in surveys, Todd said.

Because of this, it was unfair of the council to base its decision to cease Vibrant's funding on the findings of that survey, he said.

"We don't mind fighting a fair fight to continue in the role as representing the property owners and businesses in the CBD on revitalisation issues, but fighting a fight based on fabrications and untrue information supplied to the public, will be the most fastidious undertaking Vibrant will do through in this year's council's annual plan process."

City councillor Graham Sycamore said the council was not basing any decisions on the survey, rather it was used as a guide in addition to other consultation.

Councillors had talked to traders and gathered their independent views and, clearly, most people believed things needed to be done differently, he said.

"Vibrant have done some pretty good things but obviously council have got the message from a number of parties around the town that they'd like it to be done differently."

The submission period on the draft annual plan closes on April 30.


The Southland Times