Greerton liquor store stirs fight

By Julia Proverbs

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Opposition is mounting among Greerton locals to a local businessman's plans for another alcohol outlet in the area. They say the suburb they love already has enough problems dealing with the antisocial effects of booze.

A new bottle store planned for Greerton has been opposed by more than 100 people.

The working class suburb, which has problems with people drinking on the streets, already has five off-licence liquor outlets and residents told the Bay of Plenty Times they don't want any more.

The objections were made after Dalbir Singh applied for an off-licence to convert his takeaway outlet, the Curry King, on Chadwick Rd, into a liquor store.

Rangi Ahipene, a youth worker with Greerton-based Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust, said another off-licence would "potentially add fuel to the fire".

It would also send the wrong message to the community, he said.

"In a sense, it is telling the community liquor is condoned. It's like a paradox. You flood the community with liquor stores, subliminally telling the community liquor and the effects of it are okay," Mr Ahipene said.

"And it's a working class community here and a lot of minorities live here. As we know, a lot of our minorities have more than their fair share of social problems and liquor is a big part of that already."

Mother of three Laura Simmons, 29, said it was "a bit too much".

"We've got enough bottle shops and people that sell alcohol. I saw one man drinking at eight in the morning. I can't wait for them to put a liquor ban in place," she said.

Jim Pender, 60, felt two to three was enough for the area.

"That's too many. We don't need that," he said.

Daniel Noda, 37, was sick of seeing homeless and young people drinking on the streets. He suggested having just one large liquor outlet.

"Give it to one big place," he said.

Greerton Mainstreet manager Victoria Thomas said that, while Mainstreet did not lodge an objection, it aimed to attract a good mix of businesses, which in turn attracted customers.

"It doesn't really add to the dynamic of village life," she said.

Mr Singh, who owns the Curry King, said the objections were the result of a campaign mounted by other liquor outlets in the area.

"It has been made an issue by a few people," he said.

Mr Singh, who owns another off-licence in Tauranga, said he was a responsible licensee who had never had any problems in the past.

"I am really confident I can control it [the purchase of liquor] and run it in a good way," he said.

Tauranga City Council's liquor licensing team leader Paul Mason said that, while the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act was passed by Parliament in December, the application, lodged in October, would be dealt with under the previous Sale of Liquor Act 1989.

The previous act did not have provision to object to a liquor outlet on the grounds that there were too many in an area.

However, the new act, which was being phased in over the course of the year, had "enhanced criteria", he said.

The public hearing is scheduled for the week beginning May 20.

Tauranga City councillors last month unanimously supported a move to fast track the introduction of a liquor ban in Greerton Village Shopping Centre, after reports of intoxicated people regularly sleeping, urinating and vomiting in the school grounds and shopping centre.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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