28 Aug 2016

Easter trading: 'Considerable costs and complexities'

10:21 am on 28 August 2016

Deciding what to do with the Easter trading laws is going to be a huge headache for Auckland Council, a mayoralty candidate says.

Precinct Properties has sold a building in Auckland's Queen Street to Robert Jones Holdings.

Precinct Properties has sold a building in Auckland's Queen Street to Robert Jones Holdings. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

The government has voted to let individual councils decide if shops in their region should open on Easter Sunday.

The country's Easter trading laws have been a source of great frustration for many, with some tourist centres being allowed to trade, and others not.

Auckland mayoral candidate Mark Thomas said the government should have made a decision for the whole country, as now councils had to go through consultation, which cost time and money.

"Auckland is now faced with considerable costs and complexities working out to apply that to the large area that we cover. I understand the idea of having it fit rural or provincial centres, but with Auckland I think a special case could have been applied because of our size and complexity.

"I think it's highly likely the Council would have to spilt the region up. I've been involved in the local alcohol policy that is still going through legal contest, which indicates how complex and difficult it is when you take these issues and try and fight them into a one-size-fits-all approach in a city the size of Auckland," Mr Thomas said.

He said the decision for shops to open on Easter Sunday needed to be made by the community.

"We have 21 local boards across Auckland and a big challenge for us will be figuring out if we want 21 different versions of Easter trading rules.

"We know in some cases, like the dog bylaw for instance, different rules work in different parts of the city - but it means it's more expensive and what people have been telling me is they want things to be more simple, more straight-forward."

Mr Thomas said housing and transport were the main focus at the moment, but the Easter trading laws were now another thing on the council's to-do list.

Fellow mayoralty candidate Vic Crone said she was open to the idea of shops opening on Easter.

"I'd be prone to going to the local cafe or gardening store. But it's not about me, but all of Auckland, so we need to make the most of the consultation process.

"We are going to need to look at splitting up the region, but we need to balance the complexity of having different rules for different areas," Ms Crone said.

She said there were benefits for tourist areas to open on Easter Sunday but there might not be the need for other areas.

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