By SCOTT KARA
Free-flowing sales of beer and wine will be available in Eden and Roskill within six to eight weeks, following a vote by residents not to have licensing trusts overseeing liquor sales.
The results of a licensing poll were declared at the weekend. In Eden, the vote for private-enterprise control of sales was 4226 to 2953 while the Roskill return was 11,377 to 10,260.
Ted van Arkel, managing director of Progressive Enterprises, which has four supermarkets in the area, was delighted with the outcome.
Until now the four stores had not been able to sell alcohol but Mr van Arkel said planning for selling beer and wine would start today.
The company expected alcohol sales to start in six to eight weeks.
Licensing trust campaigner David Jacobs said Progressive Enterprises' billboard campaign was to blame for residents voting against trust control.
Billboards proclaimed: "If you'd like to buy beer and wine from your supermarket vote against trust control."
Mr Jacobs said the misleading slogans were enough to sway residents to vote against a trust.
He argued that it was not as cut and dry as Progressive proclaimed since supermarkets such as the Mt Albert Pak 'N Save sold alcohol in partnership with their local trusts.
"The question has got to be asked when corporates get involved in democracy: Is it acceptable for them to spend megabucks on a campaign that in effect makes a misleading statement that's bound to have an effect on the vote?"
But Mr van Arkel said his company had wanted customers to recognise the possibility of the firm not being able to sell beer and wine in its stores.
He defended the $60,000 the company spent on the billboard, poster and leaflet campaign, saying it was not a lot of money.
"Under the trust regime we may have been able to sell beer and wine but on a rather restricted basis. From our point of view we didn't really want to have a sub-tenant in our space."
Mr Jacobs said the vote was disappointing since the two communities would not get a say on how liquor was sold in their areas.
Residents would also miss out on the money which liquor licensing trusts gave back to the community.
By SCOTT KARA