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Mayor disappointed by ARLA Wests Cordial Decision

Press Release – Dunedin City Council

The Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull is disappointed the new alcohol legislation has caused South Dunedin company Wests Southern Liquor to lose its licence.Mayor disappointed by ARLA Decision

Dunedin (Thursday, 1 September 2016) – The Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull is disappointed the new alcohol legislation has caused South Dunedin company Wests Southern Liquor to lose its licence.

Mayor Cull was reacting to the decision of the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) to decline the licence.

In April this year, the Dunedin District Licensing Committee (DDLC), which was formed to consider applications for local liquor licences, approved an application to renew the off-licence of the company – in what was seen by many as a test case to aid in the interpretation of the new law. The application drew no public opposition or any objection from the Police but was opposed by the Medical Officer of Health.

A month after the DLC approved the licence on 1 September 2015, both the Medical Officer of Health and the DCC Licensing Inspector appealed the decision.

Mr Cull says it is not clear how the new legislation applies and it is hard to make sense of it. “To drive a small company out of business because it sells both cordial and alcohol in close proximity, when supermarkets do the same isn’t logical. Indeed on that basis I personally provided a letter to ARLA supporting Wests right to continue operating. Even ARLA acknowledged this business has been producing cordial since 1876 and brewing and selling alcohol since 1906 and hasn’t caused a problem in its community.”

“The law is ridiculous, if this is the outcome of the new process. It makes it pointless to have a local District Licensing Committee if it is going to get overruled.”

Mr Cull says it is poor law that allows supermarkets to sell alcohol alongside non-alcoholic beverages, but a small company effectively doing the same thing is not allowed to. “Nobody has complained about Wests and this decision means it’s just as likely the business will become a full blown liquor store or force the 140 year old company out of business.

“The Government should be concerned about the unintended consequences this legislation has caused and what it means for similar small businesses. The DCC will pay Wests’ legal costs on this action because we saw it as a test case on how ARLA would apply the new law with the DDLC. ARLA is just doing its job, but has no local understanding, which brings into question the need for a local licensing authority. If this is the outcome, why bother – why not just go with a national body.”

Mr Cull says the decision will have implications for the family who own the business. However, it does vindicate the actions of the DCC’s licensing inspector who was carrying out her job according to the requirements of the law – a ridiculous law at that!

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