Off their trolleys

Flash in a pan: Cllr Tilbury was pleased to sign these warning signs - but once the guards went - people ignored them
Flash in a pan: Cllr Tilbury was pleased to sign these warning signs - but once the guards went - people ignored them
Jenny Barlass

Council and Westfield at loggerheads

Hornsby Councillor Nathan Tilbury is accusing Westfield of making misleading statements over the decades long problem of abandoned trolleys.

He’s accused the retail giant of lying after it publicly stated it was working with Hornsby Council to find a solution.

“We haven’t had any contact with Westfield for over four months,” he said. “The last contact was us asking them for a concrete proposal to end this problem. We have heard nothing since then.

“If Westfield are claiming they’re in continuing conversations with Hornsby Council on the abandoned trolley issue, it’s simply untrue. I’m calling them out on this.”

In what appears to be either a series of half-hearted measures or a poor PR stunt, last week Westfield put up signs (see photo) asking people not to take their trolleys out of the centre as over 500 are found abandoned around central Hornsby at any one time.

Westfield also posted guards at exits for four days reminding people they can’t leave with trolleys. Free ‘granny trolleys’ were given out, enabling people to transfer their shopping to a more user-friendly receptacle to wheel them home or to their car.

At the same time a senior manager from Coles flew up from Melbourne for a meeting with Hornsby Westfield and hopes soared that Westfield were finally serious about fixing this problem.

However a few days later there were no guards posted on exits and shoppers were ignoring the signs. Hornsby Council’s General Manager Steve Fedorow visited Westfield and watched as trolley-pushing shoppers read the sign before carrying on through the doors, ignoring it.

Council had not been made aware of Westfield’s signs and guards until it actually happened, said Cllr Tilbury.

It follows over a year of prevarication by Westfield who, after promising to install the wheel-locking system within the centre, then said it wanted to see it installed in the four exits to the Mall in the surrounding streets.

Cllr Tilbury added: “Council has expressed reservations about this as it will clutter up the Mall and push responsibility for clearing abandoned trolleys to Council, at the ratepayers’ expense.  We asked them for another solution but have heard nothing.”

It’s not just the eyesore the trolleys pose, but also the safety hazard: there have been incidences of trolleys causing potentially catastrophic situations with dozens of trolleys blocking Westfield fire exits, for which Coles has been heavily fined.

A spokesman for Westfield Hornsby said: “We are focussed on working with Hornsby Council to find a long-term solution to reduce the number of empty trolleys surrounding the centre. In the meantime, we’ve installed extra prominent signage reminding customers not to take trolleys outside of the centre, increased patrols to ensure exits are clear and are also offering free reusable personal shopping trolleys with wheels to customers who need to transfer their shopping.

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