Hot tips for making oral submissions

Hot tips to tip the balance!

You have your time to speak and now you are thinking about how to swing the balance. Here are some ideas:

  • Get the Officers' Report (if there is one, ChCh City Council does not have one, Dunedin City Council did). This is a report that goes to Councillors from the Council Staff (Officers) which reviews all the submissions, summarises all the requests, and gives their feedback about the requests.

It's like tennis - your group's written submission serves the ball over net, the officers' report is the ball hit back to your side of the court (what they think of your requests), then your group's oral submission is the next shot. Play the game!

  • Start your report with bullet points of what you want. Thank Officers for anything they agreed to do or change in the draft LTCCP/RLTP as a result of your submission, then argue your case for what Council staff do not agree with.

  • Anecdotal stories, and photos can help. Imagine being a Councilor and seeing someone submit at 5.45pm, after sitting all day, and previously for three days of submissions, about everything (e.g. swimming pools, libraries, stadiums, ...).

What will make them sit up and listen? A strong clear voice, well presented, passionate, confident person, with something memorable to say

  • The media picks quips (and they might be at the hearings)

E.g. "The "Blindness to people not driving around in tin boxes" needed to be addressed by Dunedin, Living Streets Aotearoa representative Judy Martin, of Dunedin, said yesterday [Otago Daily Times 6/5/09].

Nicola Bould began the submissions, and said she had considered just saying "Cycleways, Cycleways, Cycleways, Cycleways" for the five minutes she was allocated [Otago Daily Times 5/5/09]."

  • Advice from a City Councillor:
    "Focus on a few important points in your allocated 5-10 - and leave room for questions. A few points with a couple of pictures gives a better impression than a mad gallop through twenty pages! Remember that officers may make recommendations for change based on submissions. This may be easier to get through a Council than an amendment raised by an elected member. There may be an opportunity to informally discuss your request with officers too."

"Use your own words."

"Some people have a tendency to put cyclists into a box - and a negative one at that. Refer to yourself as "someone who cycles...or rides a bicycle". In the same vein, refrain from dressing in clothing that might help someone put you into the "fanatic cyclist" box."

More at

Good luck!