Mayor pleads for booze trading solidarity
Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga is appealing to fellow provincial leaders not to buckle under pressure from supermarket giants pushing to extend alcohol trading hours in small towns.
Tiny Hauraki District Council is one of several small councils around the country in the sights of Australian supermarket giant Progressive Enterprises, which is aggressively pushing for 7am till 11pm opening times - no matter the wishes of communities.
Hauraki District Council is facing an expensive legal fight because Progressive wants to sell booze outside the council's preferred 7am-9pm off-licence hours, which were adopted in its provisional local alcohol policy.
"The legislation was set up specifically to allow local people to have their say about alcohol in their community," Mr Tregidga said.
"If we're forced to defend our policy, the ones who will pay are the ratepayers."
Progressive has confirmed it is taking a national approach to enforcing 7am to 11pm opening hours, and has said there is not enough evidence of alcohol-related harm to reduce hours.
Mr Tregidga, who said he has received overwhelming support since going public about Progressive's forceful tactics, plans to raise the issue with rural leaders at a Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) meeting in Wellington tomorrow.
"I'm urging them not to buckle under pressure. We've got to stand our ground on this."
Last week LGNZ president Lawrence Yule confirmed that small councils were facing pressure from "big commercial entities".