MORE than 1800 people – mostly locals – have pledged to boycott a supermarket giant planned for Hilton unless the developer meets their consultation demands.
The extraordinary community action follows the Carcione Group’s announcement last November it was going to tear down the existing IGA and replace it with a 24-hour grocery, cafe and liquor outlet (“Supermarket wars claim another IGA,” Herald, November 23, 2019).
Protest co-organiser Ben Lawver said while Carcione had fulfilled its minimum consultation obligations by putting up a sign for two weeks, the community wanted more say on their shopping needs for the next 30-odd years.
He said around 500 of the signatories included their weekly spend at the IGA, which equalled $235 each. If everyone on the petition lived up to their threat, he said that would put a $22 million hole in the new operator’s annual budget.
“How can this developer know what our community supermarket needs are if they refuse to meet with and discuss what those needs are,” Mr Lawver said.
“We hope this petition will make Carcione realise the people who will be living with the proposed development need to have a voice in how our town centre is developed and ignoring us is bad for their business and future tenant.”
Mr Lawver said the company had banned protesters from collecting signatures outside the shop, but it backfired when they were pushed out to the footpath and secured dozens more.
They have also been warned not to share any of the existing plans electronically “or by any other means” because they are “proprietary”.
Carcione commercial property manager Ray Pardo said the pledge to boycott a supermarket caused a “modicum of concern” and was “not a fair and reasonable attitude to take”.
“We have never experienced something like this before and we are completely bemused that there would be so much community angst for what is a significant improvement of an existing site,” Mr Pardo said.
“Due to public liability concerns, we asked that a manned display be removed from the property as they had not provided certificates of insurance for public liability nor sough formal permission to be there.
“We have had some requests to meet by a number of parties, however as the matter is with the relevant authorities we believe the appropriate forum for community input and discussion will be next week’s council planning meeting.”
by STEVE GRANT