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Council favours change to method of consultation as extended Albany trading hours debate prepares to ramp up

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
Albany trading hours consultation will be held within months.
Camera IconAlbany trading hours consultation will be held within months. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

The people of Albany will soon be consulted on the city’s trading hours with the council officially approving a consultation to canvas the community’s appetite for extentions.

The council unanimously passed the decision to carry out a consultation in April and May after amending its preferred method of undertaking a community-wide survey.

City of Albany officers originally recommended a preference for the WA Electoral Commission to carry out the survey, which was backed by the council at the committee level a fortnight ago.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, councillors showed they had reassessed the situation, backing Cr Thomas Brough’s amendment for a local market research company to conduct broad community consultation.

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Cr Brough said the council wanted high-quality consultation based on transparent, high volume and quality data.

“As a councillor, I would really value seeing the granular information of who is participating so that when it comes to deliberating over the potential impacts of changed retail hours I know what I’m basing that decision on,” he said.

He argued the “robust methodology” proposed by a local business to carry out the survey would be better quality and cost at least $86,000 less than the WAEC mail-out methodology.

“We need quality data as a council to make this decision,” he said.

“Believe it or not, the cheap option is the best option.”

Cr Malcolm Traill said he welcomed the “much more detailed demographic information” of an online survey, which the WAEC could not provide due to privacy laws.

As a councillor I would really value seeing the granular information of who is participating so that when it comes to deliberating over the potential impacts of changed retail hours I know what I’m basing that decision on.

Cr Thomas Brough

Cr Stephen Grimmer backed the motion but noted his concern that respondents be prevented from completing the survey more than once.

Cr Robert Sutton said he had done “a complete flip” over the past fortnight after originally backing the WAEC option.

The city will engage the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry to carry out consultation with the business community.

To apply for extended trading hours, the city must demonstrate it has consulted with local trade organisations, tourism interests, local members of State Parliament and the wider community.

A timeline in the city officer’s report prepared for the council indicated the details of the consultation would be fine-tuned in March.

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