Future directions for sydney at night_december 2011.pdf

Yasmin King

Manager Late Night Economy Town Hall House 456 Kent Street SYDNEY NSW 2000 By email: latenightsydney@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au OPEN Sydney: Future Directions for Sydney at Night
As the NSW Small Business Commissioner, I have been appointed to advocate on behalf of small businesses in NSW and advise on cutting red tape. I recently participated in a series of regional forums around NSW to hear directly from small businesses and I received valuable, first-hand insight into issues of concern for many businesses. My office is currently reviewing the issues raised and actions to address these issues will be incorporated into a longer term strategy, currently under development, to improve the business environment in NSW. In accordance with my focus on improving the business environment in NSW, I have reviewed the Discussion Paper “OPEN Sydney: Future Directions for Sydney at Night” and offer my in-principle support for the development of Sydney’s night-time economy over the next 20 years. This development will provide increased opportunities for small businesses in Sydney. In particular I note the potential for small businesses under this proposal in the following areas: • Later opening hours for shops and restaurants • Reduction in red tape and streamlined planning approval processes, especially for extended trading hours and outdoor dining • Increasing support for the emergence of small bars and venues • Review of parking controls in shopping strips to attract more customers by allowing In addition to the opportunities for small businesses, it is necessary to consider the potential impacts on small businesses arising from this proposal. I offer the following comments and recommendations for consideration: 1. Transport
The Discussion Paper notes the importance of improvements to transport and parking for visitors, residents and workers in the Night Time Economy (NTE). The availability of safe, reliable, and low-cost transport options will have a strong impact on the ability of all businesses to recruit and retain appropriate staff. It is essential that this proposal maintains a focus on the importance of transport for workers, as well as visitors and residents.
Level 43, MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place, GPO Box 5477, Sydney NSW 2001 Phone: (61 2) 8222 4800 Fax: (61 2) 8222 4816 Email: we.assist@smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au
I support the Options for Action on Page 16 of the Discussion Paper, particularly the proposal to review parking controls in shopping strips to attract more customers by allowing four hour parking in the evenings. Sydney City Council may wish to consider a parking validation system (e.g. reduced rates or similar) for visitors to retail and dining precincts that use Council car parks. With the ‘right’ incentives, such a system can encourage people to visit more shops and restaurants throughout the night to have their parking validated. I note that the priority for transport will be the increased uptake of public transport and green alternatives such as bicycles, however I also note that this policy intends to attract visitors from a wider demographic, including the elderly and families with young children, who may prefer to drive. 2. Diverse Choices for a Diverse Population
The Discussion Paper highlights strong support for extended retail trading hours, particularly after 6pm and up until 11pm. From the Discussion Paper, it would appear that the support for extended trading hours is probably the strongest from the consumers of retail services, and is likely to be supported by small business owners, providing that the extended trading hours are optional, and not enforceable. I support the Options for Action on Page 21 of the Discussion Paper, particularly the development of a Retail Action Plan for the City. Additionally, the following considerations for small businesses are essential: a) Conditions under current Employee Awards, such as the General Retail Industry Award 2010, and the potential increased costs of: o employing additional staff to cover the increased number of shifts o paying employees overtime rates for longer shifts o paying employees higher rates on weekends, public holidays of after Increased human resources costs may also place some businesses over the payroll tax threshold, creating additional expenses. b) Flexibility in applying the definition of a “small business”, as defined by the Fair Work Australia Act 2009, especially in situations where small businesses will need to employ additional staff to manage extended trading hours. Currently under the Act, an employer is only considered a small business if they have fewer than 15 employees. This is calculated on a simple headcount of all employees who are employed on a regular and systematic basis (not Full Time Equivalent Employees). Classification as a small business under the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code1 provides security and protection for small businesses in the context of employee 1 http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Templatesformschecklists/Small-Business-Fair-Dismissal-Code-2011.pdf Level 43, MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place, GPO Box 5477, Sydney NSW 2001 Phone: (61 2) 8222 4800 Fax: (61 2) 8222 4816 Email: we.assist@smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au
dismissals. Small businesses therefore consider compliance with the definition of a “small business” under this Code of utmost importance. c) The option for small businesses to extend trading hours past 6.00pm should be d) The ability of small businesses to recruit and retain appropriate staff may be reduced with the introduction of extended trading hours. Relative to the workforce as a whole, the retail industry contains high proportions of2: I. Women – 58% of retail trade employees are women II. Young people – 19.1% of retail trade employees are aged between 15 and 19, with workers aged between 15 and 24 making up one third of all retail trade employees. Extended trading hours past 6pm may make it difficult for small businesses to attract the ‘usual’ retail employees, given that women are more likely to have family commitments and young people under the age of 18 are likely to have school and other commitments, and may have difficulty getting to and from work late in the evening. For these particular groups, safety and security, especially in relation to transport, is paramount. This is an unlikely issue for hospitality operations such as small bars and restaurants, given that 20-24 year olds make up the highest percentage of hospitality workers in Australia3 and often seek work in the evening to support other commitments such as academic studies. This presents an opportunity for small businesses. 6. Red Tape and Innovation
I support the views of the participants in the consultations process in relation to the burdens of red tape and concerns about regulatory processes that make it difficult for businesses to do business. These concerns reflect the primary issues raised by small businesses on my recent “Listening Tour” across New South Wales. I support the Options for Action on Page 38 of the Discussion Paper, and offer the following recommendations: • Where possible, workshops for businesses to assist with understanding the basics of development applications, planning controls and compliance requirements should be delivered more than once a year, and even more frequently when significant changes to a process or requirement have been implemented. • Online tools such as templates should be easily accessible on the City of Sydney website and should be written in plain English. • The City of Sydney should continue to ensure that Council employees are providing high quality customer service to all businesses, particularly in relation to enquiries from small businesses about planning approvals, processes, and compliance, which is often time consuming for small businesses. • Further information is sought on the assistance that will be provided to applicants once a development application has been approved, especially in 2 http://www.fairpay.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/64BEEA8B-4A1C-473F-AC21-B7A25AB70021/0/Retail_Trade_Industry_Profile_report.pdf 3 http://joboutlook.gov.au/Documents/Employment%20Outlook%20for%20Hospitality%20Workers.pdf Level 43, MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place, GPO Box 5477, Sydney NSW 2001 Phone: (61 2) 8222 4800 Fax: (61 2) 8222 4816 Email: we.assist@smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au
relation to communicating with businesses about timing and processes. Further information is also sought on strategies currently in place to assist small businesses when a development application (e.g. for increased trading hours or outdoor dining) has been turned down. 7. Planning, Licensing and the Regulatory Environment
I support the Options for Action on Page 42 of the Discussion Paper and welcome the consolidation of any process that will make the process clearer and easier for small businesses. I support the notion that regulators should have a greater focus on major compliance issues, such as adherence to Responsible Service of Alcohol guidelines, rather than smaller issues, such as the placement of shop signage on footpaths, that do not impact health and safety. Yasmin King
Small Business Commissioner
Level 43, MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place, GPO Box 5477, Sydney NSW 2001 Phone: (61 2) 8222 4800 Fax: (61 2) 8222 4816 Email: we.assist@smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au

Source: http://www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/22416/Future-Directions-for-Sydney-at-Night_December-2011.pdf


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