The results of the latest MYOB Business Monitor are a worrying read for ratepayers, as they show that businesses all over the country are unhappy with the performance of the local councils and regional authorities.
What is so frustrating about these results is that high levels of dissatisfaction with local government is nothing new, but not only is the problem not being solved, it is actually getting worse.
Nationwide, 44% of New Zealand’s business owners are “dissatisfied” with the performance of their local council or authority when it came to helping their business. The biggest source of frustration was delays in dealing with councils, with 64% supporting more stringent response times for local Government.
However, what adds to the frustration around these numbers is that they show no improvement from the results of the last MYOB Business Monitor from October 2011, which showed that 42% of businesses were unhappy with their local council’s performance.
The message is clear: local governments are not listening and are not willing to change. It’s no wonder people think their councils are out of touch.
In some regions, the refusal to listen is truly staggering. In Northland for example, 47% of business owners in October 2011 said they were “dissatisfied” with the council. Today that number is a shocking 64%, the single worst result of any local council or authority in New Zealand.
Something needs to change, and it needs to change quickly.
For people looking to start businesses and create jobs, hold ups with local council’s lengthy and often byzantine consent process can be the difference between their business succeeding or failing. It can also be the difference between a young jobseeker being able to find work today or in six, seven or eight month’s time – when the café that will finally employ them is at last allowed to open its doors.
For many businesses, all they need to get things moving is for local government to get out of the way.
It can be done. The Monitor results show that some councils have been able to make really big improvements. For example, Hawkes Bay has increased the number of satisfied businesses from just 6% in the last Monitor to 25% today, marking it out as the most improved region in the country.
For too many other councils however, things are actually getting worse. In fact Hawkes Bay, Otago-Southland and the Manawatu were the only regions that saw their ratings improve.
For the rest of the country, this has meant more delays and more frustration. If things are going to improve, local governments need to start acting like the businesses they should be serving and actually start listening to their customers.
Do you agree? Have you had to battle local government red tape in your business? What would you like to see changed? How do you feel about your rates bill this year – do you feel it represents good value for money?