Bottle shop booze boom
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.’’