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Liquor store appeal is a crucial test of alcohol law

Liquor store appeal is a crucial test of alcohol law
Press release - Community Law Canterbury

Community Law Canterbury will be offering to provide free legal services to community objectors who opposed an off-licence at Ferry Road in Philipstown. The Council licensing committee turned down the application but it is now being appealed.

Last week, the applicant, Riccarton Liquor Limited, announced that it was appealing the decision on multiple grounds, including the unlawful application of the law by the District Licensing Committee and the wrong decision.

Law Centre Manager Paul O’Neill said that “many people from the community opposed this application. The police opposed the application. The medical officer of health opposed the application, as did the Council licensing inspectors.

“The appeal process requires legal advocacy and can be very expensive. Communities generally do not have a spare $20,000 for an appeal, and this community certainly does not.

“Also, as the applicants have challenged everything - process, representation and outcomes – this is going to be a complex case requiring much research and representation.

“Community Law is therefore offering to support the community objectors.”

Paul O’Neill noted that the number of licenses in an area is directly linked to the level of alcohol-related harm. He said that many Council areas are seeing an increasing number of applications for off-licences, which sell alcohol ‘to go’. In the community many people, including the young, have turned their backs on expensive bars and restaurants and are drinking cheap alcohol, often binging in their own homes or local parks and areas.

“Communities have not had much luck at the appeal authority in turning back the tide of increasingly accessible cheap booze. Philipstown is an area of high deprivation which has lost much through school closures and earthquake damage over recent years. The last thing it needs is another alcohol outlet.

“The community objectors thought the site would be suitable for many other uses than selling alcohol. But they strongly oppose another liquor store – there is one 50 metres away!”

While the level of involvement by Community Law is yet to be agreed with the community, it is likely that the Community Law team will “walk side by side with the Philipstown community all the way to the appeal authority”.

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