Pittwater business groups don’t support a ONB Mega Council

From the Mona Vale Chamber of Commerce presentation to the delegate Richard Pearson on Wednesday 23 March.

I am speaking tonight AGAINST the proposal for one Northern Beaches Regional Council. I have worked in Mona Vale for seven years, initially as the bank manager of Westpac and now as the Chief Executive Officer of BMG Wealth.

In these capacities I have worked closely with local business owners and with Pittwater Council staff and Councillors.

Having worked in a very large organization such a national bank and now in a smaller Company, I appreciate the difference between such organizations in terms of the speed at which such organizations can adapt to changing needs in the market they operate.

Although better resources, Big corporates are generally slower to react to changes in their customer’s needs and the internal processes to bring about change are much slower and involved. In contrast, I have found smaller companies react faster to the changing needs of their clients and are more effective at implementing change.

From a business perspective, I have found Pittwater Council to be a very responsive and dynamic Council and I think that has a lot to do with the relatively small size of the Council, the approachability of Council Officers and Councillors and the positive culture that exists within a smaller government body.

Over several years I have worked on a number of projects with Pittwater Council including the “Enliven Pittwater” initiative and the establishment of an annual Market Day at Mona Vale Village Park. In this context I have found Pittwater Council to take an active interest in consulting local chambers and businesses and always willing to look at new and innovative ways of serving its residents and local businesses.

Over the past 18 months the Chamber has worked with Council on the Mona Vale Place Plan and it was fabulous to observe that instead of staff working in backrooms on a master plan and presenting it as a done deal, Pittwater Council devoted significant resources to a lengthy consultation process including very informative public sessions with a series of highly regarded experts in their respective planning and related fields – before even starting to draft concept plans.

Pittwater Council is a leader in its approach to supporting business – hosting in September 2014 – Sydney’s first ever Village Economies Summit AND being selected as one of only six NSW Councils to participate in the future cities program.

Mr Pearson, I believe that none of these accolades would have been achievable if Pittwater was swallowed up in a mega council.

Due to its size and the passionate support it enjoys from both its residents and business communities, Pittwater has been a leader among the three Northern Beaches Councils.

Pittwater Council won the prestigious Bluett award in 2002 and achieved further commendations in recent years.

True it is that Warringah Council was awarded that same prestigious Bluett award last year.

But what inspired Warringah Council to address its many past problems and failings?

Mr Pearson, I suggest to you it was the fact that Warringah was looking over its shoulder at its innovative and dynamic Northern neighbour picking up these many accolades that inspired Warringah to improve it services to its residents.

But that situation would NOT exist under a single MEGA Council which would become lazy and apathetic as it enjoyed a monopoly of local government on the Northern Beaches. It would put more layers of management between the Council and its community. The unique culture of responsiveness and efficiency that has been nurtured in Pittwater Council over the past 24 years would be forever lost.

As in business, it is COMPETITION which drives innovation and the ONLY way in LOCAL government way to achieve anything like the market forces which spur on private enterprise, is to promote healthy competition and rivalry between three Northern Beaches Councils. By retaining 3 Northern Beaches Councils we have a yard stick to compare the performance of each Council and the ability for community and business groups within each Council area to hold their separate Councils accountable.

Mr Pearson, on behalf of the business community of Pittwater – I urge you to strongly recommend against a single Northern Beaches Council.”

Make sure you also have your say to Warringah’s proposal for a mega council on the Northern Beaches: https://www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au/proposals/manly-pittwater-and-warringah-councils/

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