Better deal call for ‘small business’

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MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is being urged to be a “small business friendly council” by joining 18 municipalities that have signed a charter with the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC).

Agreeing to sign the charter and would see the shire partner with the VSBC to “provide small businesses with the support they need to run their businesses”.

The suggestion for the shire to sign up comes from the business-backed Committee for Mornington Peninsula (C4MP), which is also lobbying for the shire to be recognised by governments as “regional” rather than “metropolitan” (“Call to reclassify peninsula” The News 5/8/19).

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of the peninsula economy and deserve the support of the local council in their work providing jobs, services and a crucial economic contribution to our community,” C4MP president Bruce Billson said. The former MP for Dunkley and federal small business minister, said signing the charter would commit the shire to “create a more positive and encouraging enterprise environment for local businesses”.

“Committing to becoming a small business friendly council and carrying through on the expectations this creates will be an important statement that the shire understands, values and respects the positive and vital contribution of the business community to the wellbeing of the region and local residents”, Mr Billson said.

Municipalities to have already signed the charter include Frankston, Casey and Kingston. Signing the charter, will see the shire pledge to:

  • Pay small businesses within 30 days;
  • Support local businesses in managing the impacts of infrastructure projects;
  • Streamline the approval process when starting a business; and
  • Help set up and support local business networks.

Mr Billson said there would “no direct cost” for the shire, although there was “an expectation” the council would show “genuine respect and support for small businesses”.

Ways for councils to reduce the impact of infrastructure works on businesses included ensuring access is maintained and “promotional activities to keep customers coming to disrupted areas, publicity support that businesses are still operating despite the works and street festivals and prizes to bring people back after works have concluded”.

Regarding streamlining approvals, Mr Billson said he had heard of councils having “single-entry point/one-stop shop processes and application facilitation”.

“Councils presenting clear parameters that, when met, mean a permit or approval is not required and ‘tell us once’ processes where a business provides one set of documents and the council navigates its own various departments and multiple approval channels,” he said. “C4MP is the only organisation of its kind that we are aware of that receives no support whatsoever from the council.”

“Other more favoured organisations do attract council funding, but support can come in the form of being interested in our members’ views, meaningful consultation, an office space or partnering of projects of shared interest such as C4MP’s leadership in pursuing a regional not suburban designation for the peninsula.”

Mr Billson said there were often advantages when decisions to buy goods from local suppliers was not based solely on price.

Judy O’Connell, head of the VSBC, will outline help her office can provide local businesses and the advantages of the shire becoming a small business friendly council, at a lunch organised by the C4MP on 28 October at Mornington Racing Club, Details: email info@committeeformp.com.au or visit www.committeeformp.com.au

First published in the Mornington News – 8 October 2019

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