Wednesday, 18 September 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Off licence application to be heard by District Licensing Committee

The application for another “bottle store style” off licence in Whitianga, to be situated at 23 Albert Street (part of the old Whitianga Vets premises), will be heard by the Thames-Coromandel District Licensing Committee on Monday 16 September.

The committee is an independent body and functions separate from Thames-Coromandel District Council.

The application was made by Kaloti Limited. The company was registered in October 2014 and is wholly owned by its sole director, Gurinderpreet Singh. According to the Company’s Office records, Mr Singh is residing in both Auckland and Whitianga.

If the application is successful, Kaloti Limited will trade under the name “Whitianga Wines & Spirits.”

The application is opposed by both the Medical Officer of Health and the District Licensing Inspector. The Police do not oppose the application.

According to the District Licensing Inspector, the applicant is a suitable candidate for an off-licence, but the application does not meet the criteria of section 105 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. The inspector is specifically concerned about Whitianga’s small population-base (estimated to be 5,080 in 2018), the fact that there are eight off licensed premises within a 1km radius of 23 Albert Street (one only 45m away), the fact that an additional off licence is likely to contribute to future alcohol related harm and the fact that the good order of the area adjacent to the premises the licence is being applied for may be reduced by more than a minor extent.

In their decision to oppose the application, the District Licensing Inspector relied on statistics provided by the Police, indicating the following -

  • In the 2017/2018 year, there were 59 drink driving offences recorded in Whitianga, 189 alcohol-related calls for service were received and 35 public place or licenced premises violence/disorder incidents were attended to.
  • In the 2018/2019 year, 41 drink driving offences were recorded, 160 alcohol-related calls for service were received and 30 public place or licenced premises violence/disorder incidents were attended to.

According to the inspector, “There is a high density of existing off licences for a small town, which is a vulnerable community and another premises outlet would provide greater access and demand, which would increase the likelihood of creating more alcohol-related harm.”

The Medical Officer of Health opposes the application, among other things, on the basis of Whitianga being well served by off licences and that “alcohol harm would increase as a result of increased availability, competition and competitive pricing.”

Following notification of the application, 16 objections have been received from members of the public. The points raised by the objectors included the location of the premises in an area where school children tend to get together (in close proximity to a takeaway, juice bar and pizza restaurant), the perception that Whitianga already has enough off licences to serve the small population base and the close proximity of the premises to another bottle store.

In June this year, the Thames-Coromandel District Licensing Committee turned down an application in Whangamata that was in many ways similar to the one made by Kaloti Limited. That application was opposed by the Police.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.