Blog - A visit to Coco’s Cantina
Today I visited Coco’s Cantina, a great little restaurant up on K Rd, to meet with its proprietors and talk to them about the problems they have had in dealing Auckland Council.
It was a delight to meet Renee and Damaris, both hard working business owners who have spent years putting a lot of time, money and effort into Coco’s. Given what an institution Coco’s has become in the Auckland dining scene, it is clear their efforts are paying off.
I was appalled to hear about the constant struggles they have had with red tape and inflexibility in dealing with Council. From problems with getting signage up, to issues with hosting an anniversary party, to trying to merge their liquor licences and trying to get their kitchen expanded, at every step Council seemed to find a reason to say no.
What Renee and Damaris complained about in their dealings with Council, I’ve heard time and again from many small and medium business owners. The culture in Auckland Council is not conducive to running a business smoothly. The ‘can-do’ attitude is missing from Council, instead there seems to be a ‘can’t do’ attitude which is hugely frustrating for all concerned. These barriers stop businesses from thriving and reaching their potential – the ultimate losers of this are the people of Auckland.
There is no sense that Council responds to people as valued clients or customers yet it is people like Renee and Damaris that pay the rates that allow Council to function. The culture of Council needs to change. Right now, Auckland Council is an organisation that is viewed with a lot of hostility. A recent survey showed only 17 percent of Aucklanders trusted Council. That’s not good enough.
Council needs to become more customer orientated, flexible and ready to find solutions. Those who work in Council need to be empowered to help the residents and ratepayers of this city. Councils are elected by the people of Auckland to serve their needs. Changing the culture of the Council will also be good for the people that work for it. We need to make Council an organisation which its employees are proud to say they are working for.
There are great businesses in Auckland and more great ones that are starting up. If we want them to thrive, Council has to enable their success.