By Hayley Gastmeier, Emily Norman, and Chelsea Boyle
Both CDC and SWDC adopted draft policies yesterday, giving the green light to move forward and consult their communities on Easter Sunday trading.
Masterton however, shut the doors on the idea after deferring the decision at its last council meeting, opting to wait to see how Carterton and South Wairarapa councils proceeded.
Masterton councillor Bex Johnson, who was against deferring the issue, said she was pleased to see Carterton and South Wairarapa moving to the next stage.
“I would like Masterton to review their position,” she said.
“It’s all about choice.
“It’s about saying ‘you’re in business, you make the decision’.”
In South Wairarapa, councillor Colin Olds moved to adopt the draft policy for consultation, which was seconded by councillor Brian Jephson.
Mr Jephson said council “[owed] it to the people” to progress the process and give them a say.
Councillor Dayle Harwood asked if “it would be achievable” for individual towns to opt out of the policy.
SWDC chief executive Paul Crimp said the policy could be “fashioned to preclude a certain geographical area” should a “town not want it”.
From Saturday, SWDC will begin consultation with ratepayers to measure public support in allowing shops to open on the public holiday.
Public consultation begins
To get a feel of the community’s stance on the matter, the council had previously carried out an informal online survey in which 229 people took part.
About seventy-five per cent of those surveyed were in favour of allowing South Wairarapa businesses to open on Easter Sunday.
Councillor Pip Maynard said it was important to note that just 10 per cent of those who took the survey were in fact shop owners, managers, or employees.
“The majority of answers are from people who aren’t affected at all by this… [most people who took the survey were] the ones that want to go out and shop.”
Mr Crimp said survey results received in South Wairarapa “were quite different from those received by Masterton and Carterton”.
He said most Masterton ratepayers had been against trading on Easter, with Carterton ratepayers split down the middle on the issue.
Carterton District Council policy adviser Solitaire Robertson presented the Easter Trading report to councillors, saying it was just one step in the process.
“It’s not a sign off, it is a ‘let’s go out and see what the community thinks’ and whether they want to be open on Easter Sunday or not.”
Chief executive Jane Davis said ideally they would have liked to give the community more time to consider the proposal.
“We have basically run out of time,” she said.
“To get a new policy in place for Easter 2017 the decision pretty much has to be made today.”
Carterton councillors were unanimously in favour of moving forwards and were keen to hear from the community.
Councillor Brian Deller said that it was important to consult the community, businesses, and churches as “all sorts of organisations will be affected”.
“Easter Sunday is a day of significance.
“The public need to have the choice.”
Councillor Rebecca Vergunst asked if it was possible to promote the issue on Facebook, giving holidaymakers with no newspaper in hand a better chance to contribute to debate.
Carterton residents have until February 10 next year to make a submission with the final decision to be released on March 1.
For South Wairarapa public consultation will run until February 13.
A tentative submission hearing has been penciled in for March 2, with March 3 reserved if necessary.
Businesses should make the choice
Masterton businesses will have no say in whether they open or stay closed for Easter Sunday next year.
Masterton District Council voted to defer the policy which would have opened up consultation on Easter Sunday trading.
Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce chairman Sean Stafford said the decision to open on Easter Sunday or to remain closed should rest with the business owner.
“Undoubtedly having a choice as to whether you want to open or not, from a business perspective is ideal,” he said.
“In some respects it sounds like Masterton has missed an opportunity to empower businesses to make an evaluation themselves on whether opening on Easter Sunday would be financially feasible.”
Mr Stafford said it was “not necessarily a given” that opening on Easter Sunday would benefit a business financially, “but it’s good to have the choice”.
“It will be different for every business.
“Some businesses will benefit from opening over that period, and others won’t be able to justify opening at all.
“But that decision should really rest with the business owner as opposed to the council making it for them.”