Rebecca Sargeant, Bangalow
I am pleased that Cr Simon Richardson intends to review all aspects of Byron Shire Council’s tender policy (Echonetdaily 30 June). In doing so, it is crucial that Council fully understands the commercial impact of its policy. In essence, by tendering a lease or licence utilised by an existing business to the highest bidder, the council is profiting from the goodwill created by the incumbent business. While this goodwill does increase the value of Council land, this increased value is dependent on the on-going viability of the commercial activity. Squeezing existing operators’ profits under the threat of losing out to competitors is not sustainable, not responsible and will ultimately devalue the land rights. Similarly, the impact of issuing additional licences needs to be well understood in this context.
I consider that a ‘fair’ policy would require the financial criteria to be weighted in relative, not absolute, terms. That is, bids at an appropriate market rate should be weighted equally. This will ensure that other criteria (ie community involvement and safety record) will become determinative. It will further ensure that council tenders do not become a backdoor mechanism for acquiring someone’s business through payment of a lease/licence premium to Council, leaving the business owner with nothing.