A local board has had to go it alone in appealing against a proposed new liquor store opposite a Mangere school, after the Auckland Council refused to back the appeal.
About 25 Mangere residents packed a courtroom at the Auckland District Court yesterday to hear the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board appeal against a District Licensing Committee decision to grant an off-licence to Wickman Way Price Cutter for a liquor store on the first floor, opposite Southern Cross Campus.
Board chairwoman Lydia Sosene presented the appeal without a lawyer after the Auckland Council advised against the appeal and refused to provide resources.
Mrs Sosene and the other six elected board members paid the $500 appeal fee but could not afford a lawyer.
Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority chairman Judge John Hole said it was unfortunate the board did not have a lawyer because the appeal was the first heard by the authority against a district licensing committee decision on an off-licence since alcohol laws were revised in 2012.
"We are all feeling our way today as to how these appeals are going to be conducted," he said. "It is unfortunate that all the parties are not represented by legal counsel."
Wickman Way Price Cutter director Jagjit Janjua was represented by Brookfields partner John Young.
Southern Cross Campus was represented by lawyer Dr Grant Hewison but its appeal was struck out because it was not an objector to the original application for the licence, which was advertised during school holidays.
Mrs Sosene told the hearing the local board had heard "an extraordinary outcry"against the liquor store. "Every board member had been approached multiple times by parents, youth and community leaders telling us we had to appeal."
There were already 108 liquor licences in the board area, including another off-licence and an on-licence within 1km of the proposed store.
Mrs Sosene said Mangere East was "one of the most socially deprived and vulnerable communities in New Zealand".
The licensing committee had put too much weight on an undertaking the Price Cutter would stop selling beer and wine in its existing ground-floor shop, she said.
Mr Young said Mrs Sosene had not established legal grounds for an appeal.