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Mayor gutted by supermarket tactics

Mayor gutted by supermarket tactics

March 1, 2014

Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga has hit out at Progressive Enterprises, accusing the supermarket giant of trying to push his community into extending alcohol trading Progressive Enterprises, which owns 68 Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand, is trying to force the small council to change its local alcohol policy.

It wants the Council to extend the hours alcohol can be sold in the Hauraki district from 7am until 11pm and has appealed the Council’s policy to the alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority.

The Council policy wants hours restricted from 7am to 9pm.

Mr Tregidga said the Council had “overwhelming support” from its community to
restrict trading hours, including from the Waikato District Health Board, NZ police, anti-violence groups and more.

“Hundreds of people have input into this policy, via a survey, via discussion groups and via the formal submission process. It’s as clear as a bell that the people of Hauraki do not want supermarkets selling booze past 9pm. Progressive Enterprises simply doesn’t care what local people want; for them its all about dollars. It’s that Mr Tregidga said Progressive Enterprises has two Countdown supermarkets in the district and both closed at 9pm.

But he said Progressive’s lawyer made it clear during hearings that the company wants longer trading hours - from 7am until 11pm. The Council had originally proposed 9am – 9pm.

“Progressive also made it clear that if they didn’t get their way, they would appeal, despite what the community clearly wants,” Mr Tregidga said.

“Frankly, it felt like a threat. Small councils like ours can’t afford a legal stoush with Progressive and they know it.”

Mr Tregidga said, after talking with local police and others, the Council compromised and changed the policy, extending morning hours to allow alcohol trade beginning at 7am but still closing sales off at 9pm.

“And we’ve taken a bit of flak from people about that; they think we’ve been too soft. As it turns out, the compromise wasn’t enough for Progressive and now they’re bringing out the big guns.”

Two other liquor organisations – Liquorland and SuperLiquor - have also appealed Hauraki’s policy. However neither is demanding that trading hours be extended to Mr Tregidga said he was “absolutely gutted” with the attitude from Progressive and said his community would not “go down without a fight”.

“The legislation was set up specifically to allow local people to have their say about alcohol in their community. That’s why it is a called a Local Alcohol Policy.”

“But Progressive Enterprises seems to be quite happy to ride rough-shod over small communities to get their own way and force small council into defending something that frankly, shouldn’t have to be defended. It makes me sick.”

Mayor Tregidga said legal costs to take part in the appeal had been estimated at tens of thousands of dollars.

“Why should the ratepayers of Hauraki be forced to go up against Progressive Enterprises? We can’t afford to do that, not with the resources they are throwing at this issue nation-wide.”

Mr Tregida said he was aware that the Australian-owned supermarket chain had appealed a number of local alcohol policies adopted by other small Councils.

“I just think someone needs to stand up and say something. Progressive’s attitude is nothing short of arrogant.”

Ends

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