Following yesterday's release of the NSW Small Business Commission report, which looked into small business relationships in the Southern Highlands following the suspension of the Wingecarribee Shire's elected council, interim administrator Viv May has called on the incoming general manager and staff to do better.
"Clearly these results are not good enough," said Mr May.
"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."
Mr May indicated that report's 20 recommendations should be considered a pathway for the next council, to be voted in at the September 4 elections.
"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."
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.
Fifty-seven 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 (DAs), inconsistency in charges, councillor agendas, poor communications and customer service, response delays and lack of long-term planning as areas in need of attention.