'Crazy' decision to strip Wests of liquor licence, owner claims

Wests (NZ) Ltd’s director Alf Loretan is disappointed after the Dunedin business lost its liquor...
Wests (NZ) Ltd’s director Alf Loretan is disappointed after the Dunedin business lost its liquor licence. Photo: Gerard O'Brien.
A Dunedin soft drinks institution has had its liquor licence stripped in what its owner is calling a "crazy" decision.

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.

Comments

An excellent case of "The law is an a##".

I bet there will be no compensation offered for loss of earnings due to the 2012 act either.

Next, watch West be unable to sell the product they manufacture from that store soon when the anti-sugar police state kicks in.

I predict they will be too close to a school to sell soft drinks due the sugar content.

There will be no consideration that the kids in the 70's and 80's were buying drinks there and were not fat and the kids in the 90s and now are fat, yet West has not changed what they do.

Funny that when you think about it.

A sad but inevitable decision for West not to sell alcohol when faced with the power of the state and stupid legislation with "unforeseen circumstances".

In typical bureaucratic idiocy, they close Wests, an admitted non-problem, and leave the supermarkets open, an admitted problem. Perhaps the only advantage to citizens is that the collective idiocy of the bureaucracy will advance its demise. Not much of a salve for Wests however.

Why is it the powers that be seem determined to centalise sales power in the supermarkets? Supermarkets have much more blatant alcohol positioning and advertising with much more visible enticements to affect the "vulnerable" kids than Wests. Not only has Wests never had an issue but the entire local community supports them including the police, local schools and parents who would normally be the first to complain if something was awry.
This is a travesty of justice for what has been, and is, a good corporate citizen, especially when you consider what the supermarkets get away with while their competitors get hammered. [Abridged]

If ridiculous decisions are going to be made they should be applied across the board. So all supermarkets will no longer be able to sell alcohol. Or are these brave decision makers scared of the big boys - I think we all already know the answer to that.