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Gloves off over Boxing Day sales

POPULAR: Boxing Day sales at Charlestown Square and Westfield Kotara (pictured) have been allowed since 2015. Picture: Marina NeilLAKE Macquarie councillors have taken a stand against Boxing Day trade, voting this week tooppose shops openingon the public holiday.
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Councillors voted nine to threein favour ofaplan –in its current form, largely symbolic –by Cr John Gilbertto“refer a notice of motion” to the Local Government NSW annual conference in December “to have Boxing Day retail trading ceased”.

It was a compromise of Cr Gilbert’s original proposal, that Lake Macquarie council “writes to every council in NSW” about lobbyingthe state governmentto end Boxing Day trade.

Cr Gilbert, of the Lake Mac Independents group, said the winat Monday’scouncil meetingwas a“first rung” in his plan to wind back Boxing Day rostering that is“smacking people everywhere”.

“At home I’ve got five teenage kids, and it just grabbed me that over Christmas they all seemed to be out working their tails off,” Cr Gilbert said.

“Once we drive this into Local Government NSW, we’re going to find out pretty quickly where the other councilsstand.”

OPPOSED: Lake Macquarie councillor John Gilbert. Picture: Marina Neil

Centres such as Westfield Kotara andCharlestown Square have openedon Boxing Daysince2015,whenthe government liftedrestrictions limitingtrade to tourist precincts and city centres.

Lake Macquarie can’treimpose those restrictions, but Cr Gilbert said enough councilsopposingBoxing Day tradewould “build momentum” to pressure state and federal legislators.

Liberal councillors voted against the Boxing Day motion, andCr Jason Pauling slammed the majority ofcouncillors for endorsing it.

“We haven’t consulted with the community at all. We haven’t spoken to anyone, let alone the thousands of people who went through Charlestown Square on Boxing Day,” Cr Pauling said.

“Council just woke up one day and decided we’re against Boxing Day trade.”

Without saying how many shoppers came to Charlestown Square last Boxing Day,a figure thought to be in the tens of thousands,general managerDwight Hodgetts said the centre“traded strongly”and set a new recordfor visitorsoverthe Christmas period.

“Shoppers in the Hunter Region have embraced the opportunity to shop at Charlestown Square on Boxing Day. It has also become a significant trading day for retailers,” Mr Hodgetts said.

“In 2016, the majority of stores were open…giving shoppers in the Hunter region the same opportunities to shop the sales as those in Sydney.”

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