Opposing new liquor stores, licenses could become easier with free legal help service

Opposing new bottle stores and liquor licenses in your neighbourhood may soon become easier with free legal help now available.

New liquor outlets can become lightning rods for protest, including a proposed new bottle store which was met with local resistance in Christchurch.

Harewood resident Bruce Tulloch, who opposed the liquor store's opening, said: "particularly, we're not keen on people being able to go out at 8, 9, 10 o'clock at night and stock up on more booze - on impulse".

Mr Tulloch says Community Law got in touch and its advice helped hone their argument for the hearing.

"The lawyers will say, 'That's not relevant', 'that's hearsay', 'that doesn't apply' - the fact that people get drunk and bash each other over the head with bottles is not what we're talking about. What we're talking is whether it will affect the amenity and good order of your environment," Mr Tulloch said.

Community Law CEO Sue Moroney said the service is about helping people, particularly in low-income areas, who are often unable compete with the lawyers brought in by the alcohol industry.

"Many of these off-license provisions, particularly, are targeted at really low-income areas. so the people in those communities don't have, necessarily, the knowledge or information or the financial resources for that type of battle, so this is actually arming them with a free legal resource," Ms Moroney said.

New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council executive director Nick Leggett described the battle between the alcohol industry and local residents as a "kind of David and Goliath".

"The alcohol industry is actually a whole lot of small business people, many thousands around the country running responsibly," Mr Legett said.

However, the Alcohol Beverages Council welcomed the initiative.

"All power to them. To be honest, I think it's an intrinsic Kiwi value that we want a level playing field," he said.

The pilot project will run for the next three years in six communities. If proven successful, the project will then be rolled out across the country.

"It means that the district licensing committee is likely to come out with the right decision rather than one side having all the legal resources and the other side having none," Ms Moroney said.

Free legal help is now available to help oppose new bottle stores and liquor licenses in your neighbourhood. Source: 1 NEWS

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