Bot­tle shop booze boom

Sunday News - - NEWS -

bid for a new liquor li­cence in the sub­urb of Phillip­stown ran into a back­lash be­cause there were al­ready 16 li­censed out­lets op­er­at­ing within a 2.5km ra­dius.

Phillip­stown ad­vo­cate Wayne Hawker said it was a cyn­i­cal move to ex­ploit a low so­cioe­co­nomic com­mu­nity. ‘‘Th­ese ap­pli­ca­tions are out of con­trol, given there are well over 1000 li­censed premises al­ready op­er­at­ing in Christchurch. It is widely ac­knowl­edged that ex­po­sure to al­co­hol in th­ese types of ar­eas con­trib­ute to more harm af­fect­ing the area.’’

In June, Cor­rine Smith of Shannon protested out­side her town’s new­est bot­tle store, fol­low­ing an un­suc­cess­ful court bat­tle to stop the shop in Novem­ber 2016. Shannon, pop­u­la­tion 1200, now has three bot­tle stores.

Keep­ing peo­ple safe from more harm was im­por­tant, par­tic­u­larly in a vul­ner­a­ble town such as Shannon, Smith said. ‘‘It’s not good for the en­vi­ron­ment. We should be pro­mot­ing good health.’’

The poli­cies, while not law, can be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion by district li­cens­ing com­mu­ni­ties when grant­ing new liquor li­cences and fol­low fig­ures from Statis­tics New Zealand that show the num­ber of off-li­cence liquor stores in New Zealand rose 57.5 per cent be­tween 2000 and 2016.

The fig­ures, which do not in­clude su­per­mar­kets, equate to a new bot­tle store be­ing opened some­where across the coun­try al­most ev­ery fort­night.

The most re­cent study by the Health Pro­mo­tion Agency at the Min­istry of Health, on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the num­ber of al­co­hol out­lets and so­cial harm, found that for each ad­di­tional bot­tle store in an area there is a 1.2 per cent in­crease in vi­o­lent crime, a 1.9 per cent in­crease in sex­ual of­fend­ing and a 1.3 per cent in­crease in anti-so­cial be­hav­iour, like pub­lic drunk­en­ness or ha­rass­ment, re­ported to po­lice. In ru­ral ar­eas, there was a sim­i­lar in­crease in mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents for each new off-li­cence.

Jack­son said while it was a na­tional is­sue, South Auck­land was one of the hard­est hit by the rise in bot­tle store numbers and that had con­trib­uted to Auck­land hav­ing higher rates of vi­o­lent crime, and al­co­hol-re­lated hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions than the rest of the coun­try.

‘‘Thank­fully Auck­land City Coun­cil knew the city had a prob­lem, so to­gether with po­lice and the district health de­vel­oped an ev­i­dence-based so­lu­tion.’’

Maori War­den David Ratu has been in­volved in op­pos­ing liquor li­cences for ev­ery new store in Auck­land this year.

For Ratu, his ‘‘bap­tism of fire’’ in the is­sue came just be­fore Christ­mas, when he made a sub­mis­sion against a new liquor store in his com­mu­nity.

‘‘It wasn’t pleas­ant, the process isn’t geared to­wards in­di­vid­u­als from the com­mu­nity, and it’s dif­fi­cult for them when they’re go­ing up against big com­pa­nies and their lawyers,’’ Ratu said.

He said he had a deeply per­sonal stake in fight­ing to re­duce al­co­hol re­lated harm.

‘‘I’ve seen it in my own fam­ily, grow­ing up as a kid, the vi­o­lence, the in­car­cer­a­tions, the hurt.

‘‘I’m a 61-year-old man now, and noth­ing’s changed. Enough is enough.’’

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