The NSW Small Business Commissioner has delivered a report into small business relationships and support across the Southern Highlands following the suspension of the Shire’s elected Council.
The report was commissioned in April 2021 after concerns were raised by small business and business groups regarding Council’s ability to communicate and support the needs of some small businesses within the region.
The report summarises issues raised by small businesses and business representatives which were recorded during a one-day consultative workshop and online survey.
The survey was specifically undertaken to obtain feedback from local small business owners and to better understand their needs and challenges.
57 responses were received from small businesses (with fewer than 20 employees) across the Shire with 39 per cent rating Council as extremely or very complicated to deal with. A further 65 per cent of respondents said they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with Council’s promotion of economic development. Only 7 per cent of responses said they were satisfied or very satisfied.
Respondents highlighted the submission of Development Applications (DA’s), inconsistency in charges, Councillor agendas, poor communications and customer service, response delays and lack of long-term planning as areas in need of attention.
The report also provides 20 recommendations to improve the interactions and experiences between Council and the Shire’s small business community.
“Clearly these results are not good enough,” said Council’s Interim Administrator Mr Viv May PSM.
“I’ve asked the General Manager to work with staff and the community to fast-track a response that delivers better services for our small businesses.”
“It’s imperative Council support small business opportunities,” Mr May added. “At the same time, I want to provide the incoming Council with a clear pathway to ensure we don’t repeat our mistakes.”
To view the NSW Small Business Commissioner’s report including list of recommendations, visit www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/resources/small-business-consultation-wingecarribee-shire-council.