‘Eas­ier to get booze than milk’ in Chch

The Press - - Front Page - NICK TRUE­BRIDGE

‘‘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’’.

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