Councillor Brian Daniel has lashed the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, claiming the local government failed to be up front with ratepayers about its dismal performance in a recent community survey. The Times last week reported the latest Community Perceptions Survey results saw the Shire go backwards in some key indicators of satisfaction among residents, with an eight-point drop in the overall rating for the local government. Cr Daniel said a media release and advertising taken out to communicate those results to ratepayers “camouflaged” the situation. “As a sitting councillor I feel quite embarrassed by those results,” he said. “They are purposefully trying to dodge the bullet. “If we want to get close to the community and be clear, we should have said the results weren’t that good rather than camouflage it.” Cr Daniel said it was wrong to sheet the blame for negative feedback on population growth alone. Ratepayer concerns about value for money and poor turnaround times dealing with the Shire were longstanding, he said. “I’m actually very disappointed,” he said. “What they’ve written in the media report, there’s not any mention that we didn’t do really well on the survey. It’s scary. “I have an ethical and a moral problem with that (non-disclosure). The community owns us. We are their organisation.” He said the 2019 Catalyse survey ranked the Shire as WA’s 16th-best local government, while it dropped to 26 out of 44 in the new survey. Shire president Paula Cristoffanini rejected her colleague’s criticism and said the Shire showed “complete transparency” by making the full survey results available online. Cr Cristoffanini also defended the region’s unprecedented growth pressures as a key factor in the survey’s results. “The recent Community Perceptions Survey results need to be read in the context of our shire’s rapid growth and high levels of visitation,” she said. “The council published a comprehensive summary of key priorities and actions being undertaken to support the community into the future, some of which are already well under way.” And while the survey results were useful, the Shire listened to the community through face-to-face and online surveys and meetings, consultation sessions and workshops. “Over the last financial year, community members were invited to provide their feedback on 156 consultation surveys relating to a wide range of topics,” Cr Cristoffanini said. The February survey received 1084 responses, up on the 654 respondents in 2019. About 81 per cent of people rated the region as a good place to live, down 4 per cent on 2019, while an 84 per cent rating of the shire as a good place to visit dropped just two points. However, business operators booed the Shire with a 59 per cent rating in the new category introduced for this survey, with 18 per cent of respondents citing “poor” or “terrible”. Apart from the poor rating for the Shire as an organisation, value-for-rates feedback held steady at 35 per cent, below the national average of 44.