Objectors to the liquor licence for a city bottle store have spoken of the harm of alcohol at a public hearing but the three-year renewal is not opposed by police or the Medical Officer of Health.
The Whanganui District licensing committee met to consider an application by Sahil Sharma for the three-year renewal of the licence of his Black Bull Liquor store at 446 Victoria Ave.
Six people objected to the licence renewal.
Black Bull Victoria Ave began operating in January 2019. No member of the public objected to the original licence but the Whanganui District Council compliance operations manager opposed it.
At the time he said there were 10 licensed premises within 500m and the store was in a deprived area.
This time there were six people who objected to the renewal. Their objections only had "standing" at the hearing if they lived within 1km of the store or if they had a greater interest than the general public.
Two objectors were not present and one of them, Whanganui councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan, was deemed to have no standing.
Two others, Jay Rerekura and Chester Penaflor, representing a range of Whanganui health, safety and wellbeing groups, were also deemed to have no standing.
They wanted to minimise the harm from alcohol - but Sharma's lawyer Jonathan Wiles said that could apply to anyone.
Rerekura had expected the renewal to be granted but "wanted to make some noise".
"It would be remiss of us not to object when we have the opportunity to do so," he said.
Sharma lives in Lower Hutt and owns five liquor stores in Whanganui, two in Hāwera and five others. He said he had worked hard to earn the trust of licensing authorities, had made no breaches and supported community organisations.
Black Bull Liquor Victoria Ave sells a bigger range of wines and spirits than most, he said.
He was asked about the "one or two" homeless people who lived near the store. One has unfortunately died, he said. He has tried to get help for them, and does not sell them liquor.
"There is quite a smell from the unfortunate people who lie down outside with their drinks," objector Angela Stratton said.
Objector Wade MacKinnon lives nearby. He said there should not be a liquor store next to a petrol station, because people would be tempted to drink and drive. He also said there was more disorder in the area.
Stratton also lives nearby. She nurses elderly people with alcohol-related dementia.
"People don't realise the harm alcohol does until it's too late. The fewer places to buy it, the better," she said.
The big red store was also an eyesore that didn't fit Whanganui's image, she said.
Medical Officer of Health Patrick O'Connor did not oppose the licence renewal, and neither did Senior Constable Keith Thomson, representing police. He listed drunk in charge incidents in the area, a man urinating in public, an intoxicated woman dancing and stripping.
Several of those people were taken home in police cars.
"We aren't a taxi service but quite often we will take them home to get them out of harm's way," he said.
None of the disorder events were directly related to the Black Bull premises.
Police surveillance had only found three incidents of people parked at the service station who crossed to the liquor store to buy alcohol.
No major problems were found during eight inspections and two attempts to see if alcohol would be supplied to people under 18 at the store.
Wiles summed up for his client by saying a high standard of proof was needed before the committee could deny Sharma his legal rights.
Despite the genuine and sincere concerns of the two objectors, he did not believe their evidence was of the required standard.
The committee was District Licensing Commissioner Stuart Hylton with members Nicki Higgie and Rob Moore.
It reserved its decision, which will be provided to objectors and the public in writing.