Street party liquor protest planned
Russell School is making love, not war, against a neighbouring liquor outlet.
The school wants to see Fantame Liquor Store’s licence revoked, but is planning a street party rather than a protest to draw attention to the issue.
The school’s board of trustees chairman Matthew Crawshaw says the board is not happy about the proximity of the shop to the school, but don’t want to be ‘‘whingers’’.
‘‘We want to stay as positive as we can,’’ he says.
The school is holding a street party tonight at 6pm to raise awareness of the issue and to celebrate the positive aspects of the ‘‘Castor loop’’ neighbourhood.
A sausage sizzle and bouncy castle will be among the attractions at the fete.
The bottle shop is opposite the school entrance and is open from 9am to midnight seven days a week. Drinkers frequently enter school grounds with alcohol, and the school regularly suffers broken windows and vandalism, Mr Crawshaw says.
A school newsletter from February this year says drunks have kicked in doors, attempted arson and leave half-empty bottles of alcohol on play areas.
Locked gates after hours and metal grilles protecting windows have not solved the problem, Mr Crawshaw says.
He is reluctant to demonise the bottle shop’s owner, Chiman Patel – ‘‘He’s one of our neighbours as well.’’
However, in order to be able to appeal against Mr Patel’s liquor licence, the school has had to say he is unsuitable to hold his liquor licence.
Liquor licensing appeals are black and white and leave no room for nuance, Mr Crawshaw says.
‘‘ The opportunity for having your voice heard is very, very narrow.’’
But he is certain the board’s priorities are correct.
‘‘The school is more important than selling liquor.’’
Russell School principal Sose Annandale says police have also lodged an appeal against the licence, as it recently failed a controlled purchase operation.
Mr Patel says the school’s appeals do not upset him, and he does not think his licence will be refused due to their appeals.
‘‘ They can do whatever they like, I’m not worried.’’
He will fight to keep open the shop he has owned for nine years, and which has existed on Fantame St for 18 years.