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Business survey a wake-up call for new Auckland Council

1 December 2010

Business survey a wake-up call for new Auckland Council

A MYOB business survey that revealed 42% of small businesses are not happy with the support offered by the new Auckland Council is a wake-up call for the council to improve its basic services to business and quickly," says Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer, who chairs the council's Business Advisory Panel.

"In the past few months we've heard a lot of visionary language about Auckland's long-term potential. However the reality is most in business are more interested in the here and now.

"The new Auckland Council has got to dramatically improve the processes and level of communication around the likes of issuing resource and building consents, particularly when you consider new building consents are currently at rock-bottom levels. There are no cranes on the skyline.

"Businesses are sick of local government dropping the ball on their applications to enable them to expand and often employ for more people. They're sick of their consents languishing in what appears to be a black hole, and in many cases the seemingly lack of urgency applied.

"Alarmingly too many businesspeople are opting not to expand because it has simply got too hard. We need business to expand because the population is expanding so rapidly but too often business only sees discouragement.

"Talking about the 30-year spatial plan, trains to Albany, and hybrid cars is all worthy stuff but it's clearly not resonating with a lot of businesspeople. We're seeing a real disconnect.

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"There's a lot of lofty talk about Auckland becoming an economic powerhouse, tripling exports, and getting into the top 10 cities of the world for GDP per capita, but that won't happen when there's no action plan to change how council works on a day-to-day basis with business.

"I believe we need much better case management around consent applications and approvals. Those businesses requiring licenses need more communication, consistency, and certainty. While businesses operating in our many town centres, do not need their customers continually hunted by over-zealous parking wardens. The on-going emphasis on revenue collecting by parking wardens may be good for the council coffers, but scaring off shoppers is very bad for local businesses. No wonder they don't feel supported.

"Given the current economic environment and the cynicism that is evidently out there, the new council needs some wins fast. Basic operational improvements don't have to be expensive. It's almost attitudinal and as a new council now is the opportunity to get alongside business rather than stand in its way. Rest assured, I will continue to champion this," says Cameron Brewer.


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