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NO Safeway, No Way.
That was the chant as 1500 people marched through the streets of Wangaratta yesterday in protest at plans for a shopper-docket servo near a school and aged care home.
The huge turnout stopped traffic as a mix of young, old and all in between carried placards on a route that led them to the Safeway supermarket in the heart of the city.
Organisers called on all there to phone five people and tell them to boycott the supermarket today.
Organiser Simon Quilty said it was stunning turnout.
“This is way beyond our expectations,” he said.
“Today we voted with our feet, we sent a clear message to Safeway that we are not willing to compromise.
“Tomorrow we will vote with our wallets.
“This is a case of a bunch of executives sitting in a city office and dictating where a service station should go in our city.
“We say we are not against the petrol station, we are against this location.”
Opponents of the 24/7 service station yesterday united across demographics and age groups over the plan they say is a health and safety threat.
The service station is just 40 metres from a school crossing used by half of its 325 students.
Solicitor Elizabeth Stagg said it was simply the wrong location.
“This won’t be a few extra cars on the road, Woolworths say it will be up to 80 cars at peak times — going into and coming out of the petrol station,” she said.
“There are other options for Safeway — better options.”
Maureen Bordignon agreed.
“I think the turnout shows how people feel about this,” she said.
“I don’t think anyone can remember an issue that has created a crowd like this, had people so frustrated.”
Jodie Gibson has a child at St Patrick’s primary and another destined for school in the coming years.
“I’m shocked by the turnout, it is great for Wangaratta but I don’t think anyone expected there would be so many,” she said.
“No one is opposed to a Safeway service station, what we are opposed to is the location.
“I have always done pick-up there in Ryley Street, it is really busy.
“Add an extra 70 or 80 cars to that and it is an accident waiting to happen.”
Woolworths late yesterday offered a compromise on operating hours for the service station but Mr Quilty said the hours were not the issue.
“It is the wrong location, there is no compromise on that,” he said.