The issue of deregulated trading in Albany has again raised its head, after consultants were appointed by the City of Albany to determine public opinion.
Perth company Asset Research will conduct public forums, focus groups and internet-based surveys on the contentious issue.
The findings are expected to determine whether the City will apply to the Minister of Commerce to deregulate retail trading in Albany.
The public consultation period follows a February Albany City Council decision to support the adoption of deregulated trading throughout Albany.
The decision followed intense public debate, after the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced in January it had changed its policy on the issue and would support deregulation.
Deregulation was then heavily pushed by the ACCI, sparking heavy criticism as well as support in the community.
Albany MP Peter Watson said allowing larger retailers unrestricted trading hours would harm small business in Albany.
Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said the ACCI did not represent all businesses in Albany.
Even Premier Colin Barnett weighed in on the issue, claiming a move towards fixed Sunday trading hours might be better for Albany than full deregulation, because it would be an effective compromise between economic realities and community concerns.
Council voted 7-4 in support of deregulation at a long and at times fiery meeting on February 21, at which every councillor weighed in, except Mr Wellington, who owns a retail business and declared an interest.
Mr Wellington said this week details of public forums and group meetings would be posted on www.albany.wa.gov.au as they became available.
He said two separate surveys targeting business and community opinion would be open for about three weeks each and were available on the website now.
“The surveys will consult local trader organisations, tourism interests and local members of State Parliament, as well as the broader community,” he said.
The consultants are expected to present their findings to the council’s Audit and Finance Committee in August.