Shopping trolley owners need to clean up their act, councillors say
Tempers flare as Murray Bridge councillors ask why more retailers can't be like Aldi.
This story was originally published behind Murray Bridge News’ paywall. Paywalled stories are unlocked four weeks after publication. Can’t wait that long? Subscribe here.
Rogue shopping trolleys cannot be rounded up and held to ransom at the Murray Bridge council depot, lawyers have ruled.
At a meeting on Monday night, councillors heard that there was no legal justification for a plan to store abandoned trolleys until their owners paid a release fee.
Instead the council will have to persist with the current system: asking people to report lost trolleys to Woolworths’ Trolley Tracker, Coles’ online tool, or directly to stores.
Mayor Brenton Lewis said the situation was out of control.
"No doubt all elected members and the administration are not happy with the situation with abandoned shopping trolleys in Murray Bridge," he said.
"I'm surprised at the number of people who ride in broad daylight with shopping trolleys right down Swanport Road."
The council had hoped to classify abandoned trolleys as "litter" or "unclaimed goods".
The council could ask supermarkets to keep their trolleys within 100 metres of their premises, its legal advisors found; but council inspectors could not necessarily force them to comply.
If the council wanted to collect a fee for holding lost trolleys, it would first have to hold them for 42 days, and the supermarkets would have to refuse to make any alternative arrangements.
Other options suggested by council staff included a new by-law requiring supermarkets to look after their trolleys, or a contract under which they would pay the council to collect them.
Councillors ask: why not follow Aldi’s example?
Councillor Tyson Matthews suggested the problem had only got worse since he first raised it in February.
"I want to work with these retailers, but it's getting to the point where it's reflecting badly on the town in general," he said.
Cr Wayne Thorley argued that the council had to take a hard line.
"We've tried to consult, we've tried to have a relationship with these companies ... ultimately we need to take a hard line, take a few (trolleys) and scrap them," he said.
"If they don't like it, they shouldn't leave them lying around."
Andrew Baltensperger demanded to know why other retailers would not follow Aldi's lead and require a $1 deposit, or special token, from anyone who wanted to use a trolley.
"I haven't ever seen an Aldi trolley anywhere around town," he said.
Cr Clem Schubert suggested the council work with other regional centres and the state government to find a solution, but Mr Lewis was reluctant to have Murray Bridge put its hand up as South Australia's abandoned shopping trolley capital.
Photo: Adobe Stock.