SMEs collaborating with councils

SIOBHAN LEATHLEY
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014
Horvath Homes owner Adam Horvath
Supplied
Horvath Homes owner Adam Horvath said he had a good relationship with the Hastings District Council.

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A desire to boost their area's economic growth has encouraged councils to work with and support local businesses. 

Last year, the Wellington City Council collaborated with a Wellington startup to raise awareness, and encourage local debate on its Alcohol Management Strategy.

The council used Loomio's online tool for group decision-making to give the community a platform to share its voice and opinion on this issue.  

Loomio co-founder Vivien Maidaborn said this collaboration was mutually beneficial.

Loomio was able to connect the council with people who were usually apathetic towards council proposals, while generating brand awareness.  

Wellington City Council service development and improvement manager Jaime Dyhrberg, who worked with Loomio, said the council often engaged with businesses on local issues, and encouraged an open dialog.

The council's Capital Host Group was established in 2011 to encourage local business owners, council members and authorities, to discuss local issues.

"We do have a better working relationship because of the forum."

Hastings District Council mayor Lawrence Yule said councils were often seen as unreasonable in declining consent applications.

This resulted in a misconception that councils do not want economic development.

"Whereas most councils want as much economic growth as possible...Although it has a regulatory role, but it is fundamentally interested in making sure its city/district succeeds."

Yule is also the president of Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), which recently released guidelines on how councils could support their local businesses.

"Councils want to and are willing to partner with businesses. They want to boost economic growth, and job creation in their area."

He said this partnership was successful when both parties maintained a transparent relationship with one another.

Horvath Homes owner Adam Horvath said he has had an ongoing relationship with the Hastings District Council while building homes in the area.  

However, this perception was not shared by everyone in his industry. 

"What people have to understand is that their local authority is there to provide a service. Ninety-nine per cent of them want to do a good job."

"No city council is out there to cause problems. It's a lack of understanding of how the processes work that causes frustration."

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Wallace Development development manager Mike Walker also liased with the Hastings City Council, and shared Horvath's view. 

"When there has been issues, with meeting strict consent criteria, they have always been able to find a fair compromise, which satisfies both their criteria and my client's."

- Fairfax Media

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