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Wests (NZ) Ltd’s director Alf Loretan said he was "very disappointed" with the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority decision, which will most likely signal the end of his and his wife’s stressful two-and-a-half-year fight for their 140-year-old Bay View Rd business to retain its licence.
Their fight started after medical officer of health Marion Poore expressed concern about the layout of the store, which allowed younger customers to be exposed to alcohol advertising and products.
The decision was slammed by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, who criticised the new alcohol laws which led to it.
Mr Loretan said the decision rested on what constituted a premises — Judge Kevin Kelly ruled that the part of its shop that sells alcohol was not a separate premises — and had nothing to do with ‘‘alcohol abuse, or harm, or anything like that’’.
"A lot of taxpayers’ money has been spent on this issue and for what benefit really to the community? They can hurt us, for sure. They can maybe inconvenience people in our vicinity."
He found it baffling that had the shop sold more alcohol it would meet the 85% threshold, which meant it would be able to keep its licence.
They were still considering what would happen next with the shop, but most likely it would stay open and continue to sell non-alcoholic products, albeit possibly with reduced hours.They were unlikely to appeal the decision to the High Court.
Nearby residents spoken to by the Otago Daily Times yesterday were disappointed by the decision.
Liana Kelly was concerned about the negative impact alcohol had on society, but it was the supermarkets, and not Wests, which contributed to the problem.
In a statement provided to the ODT, Dr Poore said the decision "rectified the errors" made by the Dunedin district licensing committee when it decided to grant a licence in April.
"The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 is a complex piece of legislation which has brought about a number of changes to off-licence premises.
"All parties involved need to understand those changes and their implications.
"All licensees, including Wests, must comply with the legislation," Dr Poore said.
The case was heard by the authority after Dr Poore and council licensing inspector Martine Cashell-Smith appealed the original district licensing committee decision to grant a licence.
Mr Cull said it was hard to make sense of the decision or the legislation.
"It makes it pointless to have a local district licensing committee if it is going to get overruled."
In making his decision, Judge Kelly acknowledged the store had not created problems in the past.
However, the decision came down to what constituted a premises and Judge Kelly said it was clear Wests Cordials and Wests Southern Liquor, which were separated only by a curtain, were the same premises.