Anti-booze plea sent to MPS
A new liquor outlet is set to open on Ashworth St in Tokoroa and Salvation Army Community Ministries manager Colin Bridle, who sees the end result of a ‘‘good night out’’, has written an open letter opposing this new outlet.
Last year Mr Bridle was one of many who opposed an alcohol shop opening on Balmoral Drive, which was eventually canned.
Due to current law restrictions, the new alcohol shop which is ironically named ‘‘ Route 2 Joy Liquor Store LTD’’ is well within its legal rights to open its doors.
Below is a letter from Mr Bridle to Simon Power, Louise Upston, Mr Hartjinder Singh (owner of Route 2 Joy Liquor store) and the South Waikato District Council staff, councillors and mayor. An open letter: Hon Simon Power Minister of Justice
Hon Louise Upston Member of Parliament for Taupo Mr Hartjinder Singh South Waikato District Council Staff, councillors and Mayor.
A few days ago, I was awoken at 3.50am by banging on my front door. A man was yelling, ‘‘Colin, let me in. (Name withheld) has gone mad; he’s attacked me with a meat cleaver. I need somewhere safe to stay.’’ His face was bloody and swollen. He smelled of tobacco and alcohol and he was soaked through to the skin by the rain. Another alcohol-fuelled incident in Tokoroa.
The Hon Simon Power, Minister of Justice, made the following points nine months ago when announcing the Government’s bill aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm:
‘‘The Government sees overhauling our alcohol laws as a priority, particularly addressing the drivers of crime; because alcohol is a major lubricant for offending.
‘‘Local communities, not the people in Wellington, are best placed to decide how alcohol licences should be treated in their own area, which is why this bill empowers communities to adopt local alcohol policies.
‘‘The bill aims to strike a balance between dealing with the considerable harm that alcohol causes, while not unfairly penalising responsible and moderate drinkers.’’
So what happened to this brave new legislation that was such a priority? It has been placed on the back burner until after the elections. The reason, I believe, is that the politicians do not have the moral courage to have the electorate examine and debate the issue prior to voting. They know that the bill is a heavily diluted and a therefore less effective, version of the Law Commission’s recommended reforms to reduce alcoholrelated harm.
It’s worth pondering how many lives, maimed people, damaged families, tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in health, crime and social costs could have been saved while the Government pauses until the path is politically clear.
Yes it’s a complex issue but the Law Commission provided the answers.
The Government just needs the courage to implement them.
While the bill is on hold, Tokoroa is about to have another offlicence added to the current 59 liquor licences in South Waikato District, adding to the flow of misery already washing up at the doors of community agencies like The Salvation Army.
The applicant, Mr Hartjinder Singh, has skilfully selected a location away from schools, preschools, churches or residential properties and it is understood he has met all requirements of the current Sale of Liquor Act. Under the Act, the community is unable to object even though it is an affected party.
So, as the Government fiddles, communities like Tokoroa continue to burn. A large proportion of the families seeking emergency aid from The Salvation Army in Tokoroa are driven to our doors by the effects of alcohol.
An alcohol-addicted parent will at best destroy the family budget and drive his or her children into deeper poverty and neglect.
At worst, they abuse and terrorise family members, leaving longterm emotional and often physical scars, which are well documented as being increasingly fiscally and socially costly to the country. We are being denied the basic human right to be safe in our communities and in our own homes.
I guess my question (and I already know the answer) to Simon Power, Louise Upston, Mr Singh and all the politicians and wider liquor industry is: will you be available at 3.50am in Tokoroa to help clean up the carnage, or will you be safe and warm in bed? Will you bathe and dress the wounds of the injured? Will you hold a frightened child, relocate a distraught family or visit a person in the police cells? Will you explain to a family why their child lies in a mortuary after an accident?
I know that this objection will not qualify under the Sale of Liquor Act but I would like it to become a matter of public record. I appreciate council staff and councillors are hog-tied by legislation but it is shameful that politicians are dithering with a watered-down bill while such an intolerable and urgent national disaster continues to unfold. Yours sincerely,
Colin Bridle (Soc Wrk; Dip Man) Manager Community Ministries The Salvation Army Tokoroa
DISBELIEF: Salvation Army’s Community Ministries Manager Colin Bridle outside the premises where the new Route 2 Joy Liquor store is set to open its doors on Ashworth St.