‘Easier to get booze than milk’ in Chch
‘‘Our alcohol and drug treatment centre is in Aranui and the four closest shops sell alcohol . . .’’ He Waka Tapu chief executive Dallas Hibbs
Christchurch liquor outlet numbers are trending up after a post-earthquake dropoff.
More than 1100 liquor licences were held in the city in September 2010. Numbers declined after the city’s quakes, but lifted again in 2015.
Currently, there are 929 liquor licences held in Christchurch – just above the 2005 level.
The total is up 32 on this time last year and up 55 on this time in 2015.
Members of the community have expressed strong opposition to a recent string of bottle store bids, but a major operator says it tries to offer products in a ‘‘safe environment’’.
Of current permits, 217 are offlicences – 13 more than in September 2016. Twenty-one offlicences are held within the four avenues and 196 are in the suburbs.
There are 21 off-licence outlets in Christchurch’s central city. Hornby alone has 16 outlets where alcohol can be sold off the shelf or over the bar.
Upper Riccarton has 10, while Papanui, Woolston, St Albans and Sydenham each have nine each.
There are 29 outlets with offlicences in the suburbs surrounding He Waka Tapu’s treatment centre in east Christchurch.
‘‘Our alcohol and drug treatment centre is in Aranui and the four closest shops sell alcohol, so it’s easier to get alcohol than it is to get a bottle of milk,’’ chief executive Dallas Hibbs said.
‘‘It’s not a great sign. We’re going to receive about 1000 alcohol and drug referrals into out provider this year and so we get to see the amount of harm when it is so freely available.’’
Foodstuffs New Zealand’s Antoinette Laird said the company, which own brands Liquorland and Henry’s, was ‘‘all about offering choice and convenience to our customers’’.
The vast majority of customers had ‘‘a healthy relationship with alcohol’’, she said.
‘‘We strongly believe having a liquor licence is a privilege not a right and we go to extensive efforts to offer products in a safe and legal environment,’’ Laird said.
The company conducted researched the needs of communities to find out if there was demand, a good fit with other businesses in the neighbourhood and whether it was meeting population growth.
It worked hard to make sure ‘‘customers are able to exercise responsibly their choice to purchase a legal product’’, Laird said.
Recent off-licence bids in Riccarton, Harewood and Phillipstown attracted vehement opposition from residents.
Two – Harewood and Riccarton – were declined after community opposition.
Colin Fussell, who petitioned against the Harewood off-licence application, said he was not ‘‘against alcohol’’ and had brewed the ‘‘odd drop’’ himself.
But he questioned how minimising the harm of excessive consumption – an objective of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act – could be achieved ‘‘if you start sprinkling liquor outlets around like confetti’’.
He believed increasing bottle stores was like place placing ‘‘candy in front of a kid’’.
‘‘In supermarkets, right in the counter when you’re having to go out through the checkouts, why do they put all the temptations there? You put it in the face of people and if they’ve got a bit of time they’re going to reach out for the candy.’’
The applicant in the Harewood case, Samarth Limbachiya, argued his Trafford St store would not increase consumption in the area.
The community, his lawyer said, did not have susceptibility to alcohol problems any more than anywhere else in Christchurch.
He said examples of susceptible areas could be Riccarton and Ilam, which had high levels of university students, or parts of east and south Christchurch, which could have higher levels of ‘‘socioeconomic deprivation’’.