By Patrick Avenell
Leeton Shire Council has been quick to dismiss any speculation it played a direct role in running a Harvey Norman sales fair out of town. According to the Council, it was the Soldiers Club’s decision, and they weren’t involved.
After reading the article yesterday, Leeton Shire Council acting general manager Brian McKellar contacted Current.com.au to make clear that whilst the council was not opposed to the decision, they were not the ones who made it.
“It was the club [who rejected it],” said McKellar. “It was originally booked as a product expo, but when it was advertised as a sale, they [the club] weren’t happy with the impact on the retailers.
“From the council point of view, Leeton Soldiers Club doesn’t have the authority it needs to operate as a store, it needs council consent.”
McKellar continued to say that whilst no council consent was given, no official application was ever made. When asked to speculate on whether such an application would have been approved, opening the door for Harvey Norman to come in and monetise the locals, McKellar was diplomatic.
“The council would have to consider it on its merits.
“We have given approval for this sort of thing in the past, it depends on the circumstances.”
McKellar also reported that in the past, the council has received protests and complaints from local business owners that outside groups were coming in, making lightning raids on the locals, and leaving the Leeton retailers short of customers. McKellar’s belief is that competition is fine, and that it’s not the Council job to restrict it, but he would prefer it if these retailers became permanent fixtures, rather than weekend raiders.