Street party liquor protest planned

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.

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