Businesses call for help with ‘recovery’


A BUSINESS group wants Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to put a “roadmap” for economic recovery at the top of its priority list.

The Committee for Mornington Peninsula says many local businesses are “on the brink” as a result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The group says it has “heard how the benefits of modest council relief measures do not represent a clear ‘road out’ for the local economy”.

Also, that the many businesses in the retail, hospitality, visitor and leisure industries were “desperately awaiting a clear plan from the shire about how it aims to support a reboot of the local economy and businesses once COVID-19 restrictions are eased”.

“The peninsula needs a local government plan that is timely and workable,” committee president Shannon Smit said.

“Many hospitality and retail businesses are in desperate need of hope and a road out of these punishing business conditions.”

Ms Smit wants to “activate” public spaces to support restaurants and cafes, create a COVID-19 business response and recovery taskforce, streamlined permit processes and fee reductions.

Without a plan for summer “businesses are going to miss out on key opportunities in the recovery phase. Many will not survive.”

Member Greg O’Donoghue, of Green Olive, Red Hill, said it was “extremely frustrating that the shire has a ‘tin ear’ to the voice of its local businesses”.

“To date, the council has done nothing for the hospitality and tourism industry in the five months we have been shut down,” he said.

“Without a clear plan and decisive action to improve local business conditions, we’ll end up with multiple businesses failing and unemployment for youth going past 20 per cent. Please give us the plan for business recovery.”

The mayor Cr Sam Hearn – himself a small businessman “doing it tough” but still willing to cop a 20 per cent pay cut – defended the council’s performance in an “incredibly tough year”.

“The shire has been very active … [in] supporting thousands of local families by literally putting food on their tables over the past six months, waiving fees and charges … and providing them with the urgently needed permits to change their business models, and reducing rate payments,” he said.

“We are committed to keeping on doing these things for as long as is needed.”

Cr Hearn said he and shire CEO John Baker had met with tourism boards, the CfMP, chambers of commerce and businesses to discuss maximising trade and revenue over summer.

He said officers were finalising a business support “roadmap” encompassing measures the group was seeking to go before council for endorsement tonight [Tuesday 8 September].

“Adopting the plan would give businesses time to plan before for restrictions easing in summer.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 8 September 2020


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