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Too many liquor licences?

Claims of a proliferation of bars in Peel Street, made at a District Licensing Committee hearing, were not supported by police at an application for the renewal of an on-licence in the area.

Lizz Crawford objected to the renewal of the on-licence by VCM Ltd for Uncle Val’s bar in Peel Street, on the basis that the premises was not a tavern and was used primarily for gambling, in breach of the Gambling Act and Gisborne District Council’s gambling venue policy.

On the basis of legal advice she had received, she would appeal any decision that did not recognise that, she said.

The application was not opposed by police, the District Council or the Medical Officer of Health.

The committee adjourned to consider its decision.

In her submission to the committee, Ms Crawford said there were three class A gambling venues in close proximity to each other that all had on-licences. That created the same environment as a pokie casino.

There was evidence of a proliferation of alcohol in the central business district and there were residential tenants in the Westlake Hotel, she submitted.

There was also an issue of location in terms of alcohol and gaming close to the community.

Committee member Peter Williamson asked police sergeant Isaac Ngatai if he shared the view of Ms Crawford that there was a proliferation of alcohol venues in the area.

“I don’t know about a proliferation,” said Sgt Ngatai.

No incident in which police had to engageSince Val Morrison had taken over the bar there had not been any incident in which police had to engage.

The bar was always busy on Friday and Saturday nights, particularly during the sports season. The bar side was always close to capacity.

“So I think it runs as a tavern,” he said.

Tavern operator Val Morrison said he had taken the objection to the renewal of the licence almost personally.

They had worked hard to change the image of the premises. It was regarded as a safe and comfortable environment and they had worked hard to protect that.

Ms Crawford said it was not personal.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said it was acknowledged in the report that he had improved the atmosphere completely.

Chief licensing inspector Judith Robertson said in her inspection report there were no matters to indicate that VCM Ltd was not a suitable entity or that Val and Christine Morrison were not suitable to continue to hold a licence for the sale and supply of alcohol.

The application appeared to meet the objectives of the Act and the criteria relating to the renewal of licences.