I’m very disappointed that Council hasn’t finalised a workable business friendly policy to date, despite being a recognized priority.
This MUST BE SORTED EARLY IN THE NEW TERM. Business brings jobs, money and new residents, and thereby helps to bring vibrancy and reduce the rates burden across all residents. So what’s gone wrong?
With some exceptions, including Whanganui & Partners, I believe there is a fundamental lack of understanding of what “Business Friendly” entails. Council is generally inward looking and more familiar with writing policies and making rules, than creating business opportunities.
I’d suggest the following as a start:
Strategy: Growth in population and business is recognised as the most important item on Councils Agenda!
- The Rates Cap reduced from the current 5% increase per annum, to 3 then 2% within 2 years and the CEO tasked with finding savings with a more effective staffing and a reduction in non-essential work that has little effect on growth and essential infrastructure.
- A Development Champion appointed to work with developers and the Building Control team to remove fussy, expensive and unnecessary building compliance requirements.
- Timeframes for approval and the cost of resource and building consents must be reduced.
- Rates remissions and no building consent fees for new unique retailers and businesses with 3+ employees.
- Increase the limits on Council’s existing Procurement Policy so that more Council contracts are placed locally.
- Local firms must always be given the opportunity to at least quote on Council contracts.
- Councillors and staff need a bi-annual bus ride to businesses, farms and suburbs to find out what their issues are!
- Media campaigns separately targeting quality retirees and young families looking for quality of lifestyle, as they require good housing and use services thereby bringing employment.
- In partnership with business and farming, support a technology and creative hub to encourage technology and agri based business development.
- Supporting educators, businesses and farming in trades training and work preparedness to keep our youth and ensure they have the staff to expand.
- Rejuvenate our CBD by encouraging the development of inner city living, office and retail growth with rates remissions to redevelop heritage buildings and a contribution to keep the heritage frontage.
- Finalise Council’s Policy on the sale of council owned land so business can make expansion decisions.
- Develop paying events and tours that attract national and international tourists such as more sporting regattas, a West Coast Arts & Heritage Trail from New Plymouth to Wellington, and behind the scene tours at our major cultural institutions.
- Continue to lobby under the Regional Growth Study and Accelerate 25 plan to ensure we maximise our opportunities but also to build our own opportunities as the Growth Study is fairly narrowly focused.
- Work more closely with our farmers and businesses to encourage product development utilizing the services of BCC and other development agencies.
- Support Port development potential.
- Ensure our roads are adequately funded and are protected from logging damage.
- Ensure major transport routes and modes are effective and efficient for rural and business growth.
That’s a start but not the end. I’ll be insisting that the Business Friendly Policy is a top priority in the next term.