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Community campaign still on Target

Bland Shire Council General Manager, Ray Smith, will hand deliver a petition signed by more than 1600 people to Target Australia’s national headquarters on Monday, May 4.

Mr Smith, who will be in Melbourne the night before competing in the Wings for Life World Run for charity, will take the drive down the Princes Highway to personally hand over the petition to General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Jim Cooper, at Target’s head office in Geelong.

The petitions were circulated earlier this month through Business West Wyalong in conjunction with Bland Shire Council and call on Wesfarmers and Target Australia to reconsider the impending closure of the Target Country store in West Wyalong.

The petition calls on “... Wesfarmers management to remember the organisations origins and be true to the values of your company, honour the social responsibility you have towards your employees and not walk away from rural communities such as the Bland Shire which have supported you for over 100 years.”

The Bland Shire community has been rocked by the announcement that Target plans to the close its West Wyalong store for good on Saturday, June 6. The closure will force local residents to travel 80 kilometres to purchase essential items such as underwear and children’s clothing.

The community has rallied strongly against the closure with the 1600 plus petition signatures complemented by a turnout of more than 400 people at a community rally held in West Wyalong on Thursday, April 9.

Council has also offered to meet with Target and Wesfarmers management to discuss options to help make the West Wyalong store viable and sustainable in the long term.

While Target has to date ignored cries from the West Wyalong community to reconsider, Mr Smith said it was not in the Bland Shire’s nature to give up.

“No matter what the odds, throwing in the towel is simply not the Bland Shire way,” Mr Smith said.

“Business West Wyalong and Council will continue to lobby both Wesfarmers and Target to reconsider and at least sit down with us to discuss options to save the store.

“In the meantime, Council will continue to work with the landlord to identify and target new businesses and opportunities to fill the void.”

While in Melbourne, Mr Smith has also scheduled a meeting with the agent for the owner of the West Wyalong Target building, Tony Boothroyd to discuss strategies to attract a new tenant to replace Target after the scheduled closure date. On his way home, Mr Smith will also visit Warracknabeal to investigate a clothing co-operative which was successfully established following the closure of the local Target store last year.

Even if the West Wyalong store does close its doors as planned on June 6, Mr Smith said the terrific community support shown for the Save Target campaign could help entice new business and investment to West Wyalong.

“The tremendous show of community support at the rally and the large number of petition signatures collected are a great advertisement for any new franchise or business considering establishing in West Wyalong.

“Council is exploring a range of options, many of which have been brought forward by members of our community, to hopefully deliver an outcome which best suits the needs of our community moving forward.”