Mayor 'gobsmacked' by food firm's response

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 10:05 05/03/2014
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Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga

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Hauraki District Council says it was contacted by lawyers three hours after the Waikato Times put its allegations of "arrogance" and "aggressive" behaviour to Australian supermarket giant Progressive Enterprises.

An Official Information Act request, sent by the former law firm of Progressive Enterprises' in-house solicitor Phillippa Clifford, was sent to the council within hours of the conversation.

Buddle Findlay asked for "any notes (handwritten or otherwise) taken by council staff, councillors and the council secretary during the council hearing on the Draft LAP (Local Alcohol Policy)." The firm has been involved with Progressive Enterprises submissions to LAPs around the country.

Hauraki District Mayor had claimed that Ms Clifford was aggressive during hearings on the Draft LAP, and had made it clear legal action would result if Progressive Enterprises didn't get the off-licence hours it was arguing for.

Mayor John Tregidga said he was "gobsmacked" when the email from Buddle Finlay arrived hours after the company had denied to the Waikato Times that it used "big lawyer tactics".

He said the fact the email came immediately after Progressive Enterprises was contacted by the Waikato Times was no coincidence.

"They have access to the minutes like everyone else."

He said the tiny council, already struggling to resource a legal stoush against Progressive Enterprises, would respond to the email in "due course".

"We've got far more important things to do than rustle around and find scrappy handwritten bits of paper. Frankly, it just makes me angry we're having to waste our time on it."

The Waikato Times put the mayor's claims to Progressive Enterprises.

The company issued a statement saying: "We work closely with the local communities we operate in and as with any aspect of our business, we are happy to meet with anyone who has questions or concerns, or who wants to understand more. He's welcome to contact us directly."

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- Waikato

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