Principal and local board chairwoman say Auckland Council decision overrules community wishes

A South Auckland community's failure to stop a liquor store opening opposite a decile 1 school normalises the sale of alcopops to young people, says principal Robin Staples.

The Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board has lost an appeal to grant an off-licence to Wickman Way Price Cutter for a liquor store opposite Southern Cross Campus in Mangere.

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority upheld a decision by a District Licensing Committee to grant an off-licence, saying the board's case did not show the authority's decision was wrong.

Mr Staples, of Southern Cross Campus, which caters for about 2000 pupils from Years 1 to 13, said the liquor store was a way of getting sweet, sugary alcohol into young people at an earlier age.

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"What is really annoying personally to me is the fact that the community has been overridden ... a legal process says we know what is best for you and here it is," he said.

The battle to stop the Price Cutter grocery store surrendering an existing beer and wine off-licence for an off-licence selling RTDs (ready-to-drink spirit-based drinks) in a vacant upstairs space has galvanised community groups.

The owners of the store, Jagjit and Balbinder Janjua, have agreed to close the liquor store between 3pm and 4pm on school days and not sell single RTDs.

Yesterday, Auckland councillors voted to give local boards the power to oppose liquor licences in their areas.

Council officers argued that local boards should be able to provide views on liquor licence applications but not have the power to object.

This would prevent any public conflict between the boards and the governing body, they said.

A majority of councillors rejected the officers' advice and voted for an amendment by councillor Cathy Casey to allow local boards to object to liquor licences.

Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chairwoman Lydia Sosene said allowing local boards to oppose liquor licences would give them legal status they did not now have, and would have given greater weight to opposing the liquor store opposite Southern Cross Campus.

Ms Sosene said the decision of the two liquor licensing bodies sent a message that liquor outlets could be set up across the road from any school.

The local board had not given up the fight, she said, and would take legal advice before deciding its next move.

Southern Cross board of trustees chairman Peter Parussini said that while it thought the appeal authority had got the decision wrong, there would be no further appeal.

How councillors voted to allow local boards to object to liquor licences:
For
Arthur Anae
Cameron Brewer
Cathy Casey
Chris Darby
Alf Filipaina
Chris Fletcher
Denise Krum
Mike Lee
Dick Quax
Sharon Stewart
Sir John Walker
Wayne Walker
John Watson

Against
Bill Cashmore
Penny Hulse
Calum Penrose
Penny Webster
George Wood