'Not surprised' off-licence granted

Opponents of a proposed liquor store in Cromwell, including an elder from a neighbouring church, are "not surprised'' an off-licence has been granted.

The Central Otago district licensing committee has granted the licence to Philip Ryan for a purpose-built Henry's liquor store, subject to six conditions.

The hearing was held on June 27 and the decision was made public yesterday.

The Cromwell and District Presbyterian Church session members had objected to the application for an off-licence.

Spokeswoman Christine Hansen told the licensing committee last month there were already plenty of places selling alcohol in the town.

It was an inappropriate site for a liquor outlet, with a church and retirement village as neighbours.

During the week, the church was often attended by elderly and otherwise vulnerable people seeking assistance or counselling and by individuals who were struggling with alcoholism and other substance abuse.

Cromwell resident Hessel Van Wieran also opposed the application, saying reducing access to alcohol through tighter controls on the number of liquor outlets in an area was one way of reducing harm caused by alcohol.

Asked about the decision yesterday, Mr Van Wieran said he was "not surprised'' and would not be appealing to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority.

"I'll continue to push for a local alcohol plan instead and put pressure on the Government for some robust national policy.''

Mrs Hansen said she had yet to receive the decision but was "not surprised'' when told of the district licensing committee's decision.

She could not comment on an appeal until the session members had had a chance to discuss the hearing outcome.

Her own view was that society was not facing up to the reality of problems caused by alcohol use.

The proposed liquor outlet is part of a wider retail development for the Elspeth St site.

The committee, made up of chairman Bob McNeil, Michael McAvoy and Tanya Surrey, said if there were any problems with amenity and good order in the area being reduced because of the outlet in its first year of operation, those issues would be addressed when the licence was up for renewal.

Mr Ryan was a responsible member of the community and would carry out his duties properly, the committee believed.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

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