John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Mayoral candidates support Easter Sunday trading

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Shop trading on Easter Sunday has been given the thumbs up by the majority of candidates seeking to become the mayor of Tauranga. Photo/file
Shop trading on Easter Sunday has been given the thumbs up by the majority of candidates seeking to become the mayor of Tauranga. Photo/file

Shop trading on Easter Sunday has been given the thumbs up by the majority of candidates seeking to become the mayor of Tauranga or the Western Bay of Plenty.

They were responding to Parliament's decision to hand decision making powers to local councils, on the proviso that each council had consulted with its community.

Strong support for Easter Sunday trading also came from the Mount Maunganui and Tauranga mainstreet organisations who say retailers were keen to cash in on the crowds drawn to the Jazz Festival.

Mount Mainstreet manager Ingrid Fleming said Parliament's decision would create a level playing field for everyone, while allowing people to have a voice through the submissions process.

She said Easter Weekend was huge for the Mount and businesses loved to make hay while the sun shined. "Let's give people the opportunity to go into every shop."

Tauranga Mainstreet spokeswoman Sally Cooke said Parliament had allowed each city or town to make a decision that was appropriate to its needs. It allowed an opportunity to fully cater for the thousands of people drawn to Easter's Jazz Festival weekend.

Jazz Festival director Becks Chambers said Easter Weekend was about people celebrating together and providing them with entertainment, food and drinks.

Opening up trading on Easter Sunday meant there would be fewer hoops for festival organisers to jump through in applying for special licences for cafe and restaurant proprietors.

"It should be a lot smoother."

Tauranga mayoral candidate Hori Bop said Good Friday, Christmas Day, Waitangi Day and

Anzac morning were enough to protect and celebrate New Zealand's traditions and culture.

Max Mason said Easter was very important to the city's visitor industry because it helped sustain the economy and jobs. However, the mayor would need to reflect the will of the community through consultation.

Steve Morris said that despite his personal beliefs, he did not see why others should have their shopping or working hours curtailed, provided no one was forced to work the holiday.

Doug Owens favoured Easter Sunday trading after midday to allow for remembrance and spiritual services to be held.

Noel Peterson said a lot of businesses were struggling to stay afloat. "It will make a difference. If people don't wish to go shopping, they don't have to."

Graeme Purches said if the council did support trading on Easter Sunday, there was no compulsion for businesses to open for employees to work.

Larry Baldock opposed the move. He said he would survey public opinion, and not just by calling for submissions. If the survey revealed no clear preference, he favoured a referendum.

His personal view was that everyone benefited from long weekends, where everyone got time with their families or themselves. "It is not like one day without shopping is going to bankrupt anyone or cause tourists some massive inconvenience."

Kelvin Clout was concerned the Government had not listened to the point he made at the Select Committee stage which was that there should be a standard nationwide approach.

Leaving the decision with individual councils would inevitably lead to inconsistencies across the country and confuse and unsettle shoppers, retailers and staff alike.

Greg Brownless said he did not have a pre-determined position and had no interest in shopping every day of the year.

"I also realise that many small businesses here depend on tourism and need to open extended hours to make their businesses worthwhile. I'm open to meeting these needs subject to hearing the arguments during consultation."

Murray Guy, who said he did not want to press his point of view, supported holding an on-line referendum to inform the council's decision. Those unable to vote on-line could vote in elderly venues and community centres like libraries.

Mayoral candidates' positions on Easter Sunday trading
Support: Hori Bop, Max Mason, Steve Morris, Doug Owens, Noel Peterson, Graeme Purches, Don Thwaites (Western Bay), Garry Webber (Western Bay.
Oppose: Larry Baldock, Kelvin Clout
Neutral: Greg Brownless, Murray Guy, Mike Lally (Western Bay), Gwenda Merriman (Western Bay)
Did not respond by deadline: John Robson, Kevin Tohiariki

- Bay of Plenty Times

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