Locals get a say over liquor laws

By Joseph Aldridge


Local councils should restrict the number of outlets selling alcohol in the Western Bay and prevent liquor outlets from opening near facilities such as schools and churches, community groups say.

The Alcohol Reform Bill, at present working its way through Parliament, would give local authorities greater ability to specify where licensed premises can be established and set acceptable density levels for liquor outlets.

In anticipation of the possible law change, Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council are asking residents for their opinions in regards to the local rules governing alcohol sales.

A survey designed by the two authorities will go live on both council websites today, asking people if there are too many places that sell alcohol in their area and whether liquor outlets should be allowed to open close to kindergartens, schools and places of worship.

Papamoa Progressive Association chairman Steve Morris fought a losing battle against the establishment of another bottle store in the Papamoa Domain area last year.

Mr Morris said there were now six off-licence outlets within a 500m radius.

"All the evidence shows that the greater the availability of alcohol the more harm there is.

"When we have people who are able to buy cheap liquor in vast volumes then you have trouble and as a community we are not into that sort of anti-social behaviour we've seen displayed down at the Domain."

Mr Morris said he would like to see a sinking lid policy enacted by the council to reduce the number of liquor outlets in Papamoa.

He would also like to see restrictions on liquor outlets opening near schools and kindergartens.

Farrukh Khan operates Lenz Superette on Cameron Rd. Earlier this year, Mr Khan and some neighbouring shopkeepers opposed a liquor licence application that proposed a new bottle store in their block of shops.

The bottle store owner eventually withdrew his application but Mr Khan said the council should have a policy in place to restrict the number of liquor outlets.

"It's a wonderful idea because they should sell it in some particular places, but not on every corner. It's not good for the kids and it brings more problems.

"If they start everywhere there's going to be trouble, troublemakers everywhere."

Mary Dillon, of the Welcome Bay Community Centre, said each community needs to consider it's own situation and feed that information to the council.

"I actually think the key is for communities to get involved and decide what is best for them."

Ms Dillon said she appreciated the chance to inform the councillors' decision-making process.

"It's an opportunity to bring the community together and what's more they're doing it at the front end and not when there's a problem."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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