Posted by on 02/03/2014
Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga has hit out at Progressive Enterprises, accusing the supermarket giant of trying to push his community into extending alcohol trading hours.
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 Councilâ€™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 â€œoverwhelming supportâ€ from its community to restrict trading hours, including from the Waikato District Health Board, NZ Police, anti-violence groups and more.
â€œHundreds of people have input into this policy, via a survey, via discussion groups and via the formal submission process. Itâ€™s as clear as a bell that the people of Hauraki do not want supermarkets selling booze past 9pm. Progressive Enterprises simply doesnâ€™t care what local people want; for them its all about dollars. Itâ€™s that simple.â€
Mr Tregidga said Progressive Enterprises has two Countdown supermarkets in the district and both closed at 9pm.
But he said Progressiveâ€™s lawyer made it clear during hearings that the company wants longer trading hours - from 7am until 11pm. The Council had originally proposed 9am â€“ 9pm.
â€œProgressive also made it clear that if they didnâ€™t get their way, they would appeal, despite what the community clearly wants,â€ Mr Tregidga said.
â€œFrankly, it felt like a threat. Small councils like ours canâ€™t afford a legal stoush with Progressive and they know it.â€
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.
â€œAnd weâ€™ve taken a bit of flak from people about that; they think weâ€™ve been too soft. As it turns out, the compromise wasnâ€™t enough for Progressive and now theyâ€™re bringing out the big guns.â€
Two other liquor organisations â€“ Liquorland and SuperLiquor - have also appealed Haurakiâ€™s policy. However neither is demanding that trading hours be extended to 11pm.
Mr Tregidga said he was â€œabsolutely guttedâ€ with the attitude from Progressive and said his community would not â€œgo down without a fightâ€.
â€œThe legislation was set up specifically to allow local people to have their say about alcohol in their community. Thatâ€™s why it is a called a Local Alcohol Policy.â€
â€œBut 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, shouldnâ€™t have to be defended. It makes me sick.â€
Mayor Tregidga said legal costs to take part in the appeal had been estimated at tens of thousands of dollars.
â€œWhy should the ratepayers of Hauraki be forced to go up against Progressive Enterprises? We canâ€™t afford to do that, not with the resources they are throwing at this issue nation-wide.â€
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.
â€œI just think someone needs to stand up and say something. Progressiveâ€™s attitude is nothing short of arrogant.â€
For further information please call:
Mayor John Tregidga on 021 248 0227