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Newtown fights plans for new liquor store

Dec 4th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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SPIRITED DEBATE: The proposed site of Newtown Liquor Store.

A FIGHT against plans for a new liquor store in Newtown is under way.

The application for an off-license for Newtown Liquor Store, in Newtown Ave, is being met with anger and frustration by locals.

Debbie Leyland, co-ordinator of United Community Action Network, thinks the store is exploitative and targets a vulnerable community.

“For people with alcohol problems, liquor stores are much more in your face than supermarkets,” she says.

“Alcohol shops are like cigarette companies, exploiting people, it’s terrible.”

She says because Newtown’s health services are already stretched, it opens up more problems for the agencies which are looking after those with alcohol problems.

“Newtown is a fragile community especially with funding for services being cut, they won’t be able to cope with the extra amount of people.”

The applicant, Latchman Sami, who runs Naenae Liquor Store, says he has run his current business for a long time and has had no problems.

He says he wants to open the market because there is only one other liquor store that sells spirits and he is confident his five licensed managers will sell alcohol responsibly.

“It’s a good place for it, it’s far away from the school and out of the way.”

But Anna Costley, a coordinator at the Newtown Community Centre, who has been approached by concerned locals and agencies, says the proposed store is close to three playgrounds and two existing off-license liquor outlets.

She says research shows a high density of liquor outlets increases alcohol harm in a community.

She also says the current government legislation makes it difficult for communities to fight off liquor stores and isn’t expected to change till later next year.

“We don’t want people to think we are opposed to local businesses opening, but we want businesses to be adding something positive to the community.”

Wellington City Councillor Paul Eagle says it is a continuing battle to stop liquor stores from opening.

“We shouldn’t have to oppose these liquor outlets year after year. It is totally unfair on communities,” he says.

The Alcohol Reform Bill is expected to give the Wellington City Council more power to address licensing issues and improve community input into local licensing decisions.

Earlier this year, the community successfully blocked an off-license liquor store located across from Newtown School after 110 objections were lodged against it and a petition of 676 signatures was presented to the Wellington District Licensing Agency.

The site of the proposed store is on Newtown Ave, off Riddiford St, the main street of shops in Newtown. It would be open 9am-11pm, Monday to Sunday.

Mr Sami says he is willing to talk to residents about what their concerns are.

Miss Costley says Mr Eagle invited Mr Sami to talk but he was unavailable.

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