Dairy fights for liquor licence
Pukerua Bay will become a dry suburb if Porirua police successfully block the liquor licence renewal of the local diary.
Pukerua Bay Store has had a licence to sell beer and wine for 12 years, but when its licence came up for renewal in February 2011, police opposed it in accordance with the Alcohol Reform Bill.
Awaiting its third reading and expected to become law later this year, the bill would restrict the sale of alcohol to grocery stores, defined as shops that mainly sell household foodstuffs.
Dairies have been struggling to prove they are grocery stores under the legislation.
Pukerua Bay Store is fighting for its licence in the courts, costing it a whole year’s profits in lawyers’ fees – more than $10,000 – says owner Hemant Patel.
He argues that the store is a special case due to its isolation, and to revoke its licence would inconvenience Pukerua Bay residents.
‘‘It’s eight minutes to drive to Mana, probably five minutes spent inside the shop, then eight minutes back, which makes it a 30-minute round trip. Not many people have 30 minutes to spend getting a bottle of wine,’’ he says. ‘‘I just think it’s a bit ridiculous. ‘‘They should look at it specifically, look at the geography.
‘‘It doesn’t make sense to take it away from a rural community.’’
The store has never failed an underage purchasing test, and it’s not an issue that arises, Mr Patel says. ‘‘It’s such a tight-knit community. Everybody knows each other. You know how old all the kids are because you’ve grown up with them.’’
Porirua police are being overzealous in their approach to liquor, an attitude which has already removed Pauatahanui’s only liquor licence, says northern ward city councillor Euon Murrell.
‘‘For God’s sake, it’s not a liquor store, it’s a convenience store in a small community. The law is an arse in that it allows the Pauatahanui situation,’’ he says.
‘‘I’m annoyed because here we have got a community that is a reasonably remote community that haven’t got a huge amount of amenities, and they’re in danger of losing another one.’’
Pukerua Bay Store will not survive if it loses its licence, Mr Murrell says.
‘‘Apparently it’s not a grocery store. A grocery store would not survive in Pukerua Bay.
‘‘It’s a small community. Words fail me really. For a small community store it’s hard enough to survive and for them to have this law, it just dumbfounds me.’’
Porirua police liquor licensing officer senior sergeant Steve Sargent was unavailable for comment last week. Kapiti- Mana police area commander inspector John Price says there are an abundance of licensed liquor outlets in Porirua and the merits of each one needed to be questioned.
‘‘ Obviously we look at community needs,’’ Mr Price says. ‘‘My perspective is alcohol is a key driver of crime and we have to be assured and reassured that any licensee is responsible.’’
Problems with alcohol affect all suburbs in Porirua, Mr Price says. ‘‘Unfortunately alcohol goes across all classes.
‘‘ We see that alcohol contributes to family violence and road trauma across the social spectrum.’’
Euo’n Northern ward city councillor