Consultation caravan

Invercargill and Bluff residents are invited to check out the Council’s consultation caravan on Saturday (18 April). The caravan will be at the Invercargill Dog Park in Ness Street from 11am to 2pm and Council staff will be on hand to hear your views on the proposed changes to the Council’s Dog Control Policy and Bylaw.

Early next month the caravan will be in use again as public education and consultation begins on the Representation Review, which determines how the Mayor, Councillors and Community Board members are elected (dates and locations will be available soon). The caravan will also be used for consultation on the Council’s Long-Term Plan.

Communications Manager Eirwen Harris said the idea for a consultation caravan came up when the Council was planning public consultation over the CBD Esk Street upgrade.

“We needed a venue where we could invite people to show them the plans and ask for feedback. A vacant shop was a suitable venue for the CBD consultation, but there was considerable expense and staff time in setting it up for a week and then dismantling it,” she said. “The beauty of the consultation caravan is that it is already set up and is portable – so we can go to where the people are, rather than expecting them to come to us. It can go into local communities – Bluff, Glengarry, South City, Waikiwi and Windsor – or be set up at a special event, or the side of a road, or in the CBD, The ICC website and social media are important platforms for public feedback, but not everyone in our community has access to them and nothing beats face-to-face communication.

“We wanted our caravan to be eye-catching and inviting but practical and fitted with modern technology, so we talked with a caravan builder on how to achieve this. Originally, we thought we’d buy an old caravan and do it up; but to meet our needs (for example walls strong enough to support a television, a computer area and more room for people to sit) it would have to be scrapped back to the chassis and rebuilt, so we took advice and had a new one built.”

The caravan was built in Otatara by David Horsham (DH Caravan Repairs Ltd), and even though it looks retro, it is a 2015 design called Southern Belle. It is traditional for new caravans to be given a nickname and Mr Horsham called it Mildred, an old-fashioned name in keeping with the retro Southern Belle style. The consultation caravan is designed so that people can be invited in from the weather and sit in comfort to participate in discussion, watch presentations, access the internet and provide feedback.

The total cost of the consultation caravan project (construction, fit-out and equipment) was $39,566. Ms Harris said it was expected the consultation caravan would be used for decades and the cost compared favourably with the expense of printing and delivering just one document to every household, which was around $30,000.