Opposition-ward town councils fare poorly
Fri, Jun 11, 2010
my paper

By Low Wei Xiang

THE report card is out for the 16 here - and the two opposition- run ones, Potong Pasir and Hougang, did not fare well.

The Ministry of National Development's (MND) first biannual Town Council Management Report covers six indicators across four key areas: Estate cleanliness, estate maintenance, lift performance and arrears on service and conservancy charges (S&CC).

From last October to March this year, 10 Housing Board inspectors helped assess the town councils, with each indicator graded from Level 1 - the best - to Level 5.

Potong Pasir scored Level 5 on four indicators, while Hougang scored two Level 5s and one Level 4. The People's Action Party wards received a Level 3 or better on all indicators. Tanjong Pagar town council did best, scoring Level 1 for all indicators except one.

Both opposition town councils did not respond to e-mail queries at press time.

An MND spokesman said the report serves two purposes.

First, it provides feedback to residents on the performance of town councils. Second, residents can use the findings to discuss improvements with their town councils.

However, the spokesman advised against using the report to compare town councils' performance directly. Each town operates under unique circumstances, such as having different types of residents and properties, he said.

For example, an estate may have more three-room Housing Board flats, more of whose residents may fail to pay their S&CC on time. This would pull the town council's grade in this area down.

Instead of a simplistic across-town comparison, the spokesman said, the results should be used to track the individual performance of each town council over time.

The assessment has already spurred at least one town council to make improvements.

Potong Pasir received the only Level 5 rating handed out on the failure rate of devices that get lifts to the nearest floors in a power failure - one of two indicators in the area of lift performance.

But even before the report came out, the council had replaced all malfunctioning devices, said the MND spokesman.

One area that almost all town councils scored Level 3 or worse on was estate maintenance, which captures factors such as the condition of fixtures and the obstruction of common HDB areas.

Only Ang Mo Kio-Yio Chu Kang Town Council rated a Level 2 in this area.

The MND spokesman noted that estate maintenance was affected not just by a town council's work, but also the actions of residents, some of who may tamper with public property or behave irresponsibly.

For the full report and details of the grading criteria, visit www.towncouncils.sg



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