Napier City board’s Easter trading plan in the High Court

The Napier City Council’s decisions on Easter Sunday retail trading are being challenged in a High Court judicial review today.

The petition for the review by Justice Robert Dobson, was lodged by former city councillor Dr Robin Gwynn, who will be represented by Napier lawyer Martin Williams. The council will be represented by lawyer Matthew Lawson.

The council was split when a 6-5 majority in February adopted a Local Easter Trading Policy enabling shop owners in the Napier to choose whether to open on Easter Sunday, after changes to the Shop Trading Hours Act which had previously prohibited trading unless businesses had successfully applied for exemption.

Read more: Napier open for Easter Sunday business

Gwynn argues the council didn’t use a “reasonable and fair process” but if the High Court finds it did he’d probably have to accept that, rather than going to higher court, as happened in the last courtroom attempt to block a Hawke’s Bay council’s decision – Forest and Bird’s regional council acquisition plan opposition which ultimately ended the council’s Ruataniwha Dam hopes.

He said earlier this year when confirming he had applied for the review there were concerns over the process council followed, which he said “prevented proper consultation with many of those most affected by the decision, including employees of shops now able to trade on Easter Sunday, and church groups”.

He claims the process the council undertook favoured the business community so that the council received an incomplete and biased response.

A petition of over 400 people asking council to hold a proper and fair hearing was ignored and left court action as the only “remaining resort for natural justice on this issue” he said.

Napier and Wairoa are the only councils in Hawke’s Bay to open the Easter Sunday Trading option to all retailers, the Hastings District Council having decided in September last year to go with the legislated exemption option.