Failure to consult properly with Christians sees Napier’s Easter trading policy thrown out

Stuff 6 August 2018
Family First Comment: An interesting outcome, and a reminder that we should always engage with the political process. It’s designed to hear our voice and we should always demand that it works that way #democracy

Napier City Council has lost a court battle to retain Easter Sunday trading because it carried out public consultation while the Christian community was distracted with advent over the Christmas period.

Justice Robert Dobson recently overruled the council’s decision to allow Easter Sunday trading following a High Court judicial hearing last month.

In doing so, Justice Dobson agreed with former city councillor Robin Gwynn’s view that the council should have consulted with churches better. The judge declared the council’s earlier vote on Easter Sunday trading invalid.

While there was not a “complete failure” to consult, the council’s errors were “inadequacies in the way [consultation] was carried out”, Justice Dobson said.

Gwynn, who filed the application in February, was relieved.

“I am a practising Christian but, actually, that wasn’t what drove me to take the case. I’m also a past councillor and I was trained in what good consultation meant – It meant you listen to people.”

Losing a public holiday was a significant matter, and more thought should have gone into the council’s decision, he said.

Support for Easter trading falling, submissions show
Otago Daily Times 7 August 2018
Support for Easter trading in Dunedin seems to be slipping.

Of the 115 submissions made to the Dunedin City Council’s consultation on its Easter trading policy, about 62% want the rules to return to they way they were before – in which only businesses such as garden centres and dairies can open on Easter Sunday.

That compares with 53% who did not support the council changing the law for pop-star Ed Sheeran’s visit in April.

Support for the law, which allowed all shops to open, has dropped from 44% last year to 36% this year.

The results mirrored a council survey conducted after Easter which found only 26% of employees, 52% of retailers and 45% of the general public supported the continuation of the policy.

When councillors voted for the policy in December, they added a plan to review it after 90 days.

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