Protesters oppose new liquor licence

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine


Tokoroa community ministries Tokoroa Elim Church member Graham O'Gorman knows first hand the harm that alcohol can cause.

He was among a group from Tokoroa yesterday protesting against an application for a new liquor store in the South Waikato town. Several groups, spearheaded by the Salvation Army, have joined forces to try and reduce the number of liquor outlets in the town as a way to reduce alcohol-related harm in the community.

Mr O'Gorman said alcohol was at the heart of many issues.

"My father was a very heavy drinker. I've experienced the effects of alcohol on families. It can tear them apart," he told The Daily Post. "I've seen women's heads driven through walls and kids with black eyes.

"There is an alcohol issue in Tokoroa," Mr O'Gorman said.

Yesterday's protest took place outside the Rotorua District Council building where the Liquor Licensing Authority was considering an application for a new liquor store, Route 2 Joy. Among the protesters were members of the Salvation Army Tokoroa, Tokoroa Council of Social Services, South Waikato Pacific Island Community Services and Raukawa Charitable Trust.

Salvation Army Tokoroa community ministries manager Colin Bridle presented a petition at yesterday's hearing while a small group of protesters raised awareness outside. "We are protesting because we have too many liquor stores in the South Waikato and the effects on families is very real," Mr Bridle said. The authority had failed to uphold a "reasonable system of control" as stated in the Sale of Liquor Act, 1989.

"Is 66 liquor licences in the South Waikato a reasonable control? We are working very hard in this area but we need to be supported by local councils and the Liquor Licensing Agency."

Mr Bridle said there were 780 family violence cases prosecuted through the courts in the past two years in South Waikato alone, many of them alcohol-related.

He said the effects of alcohol on communities included child abuse, family violence, road deaths and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

More than 300 alcohol-related offences were committed every day in New Zealand.

Liquor Licensing Authority manager of environmental health John Anderson said the authority would likely make a decision about the Route 2 Joy licence application within the next two months.

"The parties were given an opportunity to address all of the concerns and now the authority will consider all the information."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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