Tauranga supermarkets could be forced to fence off their wine racks and beer chillers as the city looks at a proposal to reduce the hours for off-licences in the city’s suburbs.
Councillors at the Joint Governance Workshop decided off –licences’ hours under the proposed draft Local Alcohol Policy will be from 7am till 9pm. The default hours under the alcohol legislation that became law last year are 7am till 11pm.
Supermarkets may be forced to stop selling alcohol at 9pm.
The decision to knock two hours off will affect bottle stores, supermarkets and groceries stores.
Some supermarkets in the city have licences that enable them to sell beer and wine until midnight, though they are not always used, says Tauranga City Council strategic planner Jeremy Boase.
Liquor outlets will continue to be able to open under their existing licence hours until the licence expires.
“There’s going to be overlap, but from the time the local alcohol policy is in force it’s going to be 9pm closing,” says Jeremy.
The decision was made at an informal workshop yesterday, and will become part of the formal policy that will be sent out for public consultation.
Councillors also decided that existing bottle stores will remain where they are for now, and that the numbers will remain the same, at least until the local alcohol policy comes up for its first review in six years’ time.
In discussion the councillors from Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Councils attending the Joint Governance Committee Workshop had more questions than answers.
Councillor David Stewart commented that councillors are being asked to make decisions regarding the numbers of liquor licences with no rationale or evidence to back them up.
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Ross Paterson said they had a mandate from the first round of public submissions clearly showing the electorate’s desire to limit the numbers of alcohol outlets.
The Medical Officers of Health’s submissions said that capping and reducing alcohol outlet densities is likely to have a positive effect in reducing alcohol related harm.
When David asked if they could back it up, he was told it was an association and that they would get back to him.
The councillors first had to decide to limit alcohol outlets, then how that would be achieved, whether by capping them at present levels, or keeping them at the present number per population, or creating a sinking lid as with the gambling machines.
Mount Maunganui Liquorland owner Lisa Parker told councillors a sinking lid decision would affect businesses and jobs.
Lisa also told councillors how proximity of liquor stores to one another drives prices down and increases sales.
She says a price war with a rival outlet a kilometre away drove down prices and increased sales well past the summer peaks.
After hearing this councillors decided to keep bottle stores 500 metres apart.
Whether liquor outlets should be near kindergartens, primary or secondary schools and tertiary institutions were options that have also sneaked across from the Gambling Act, says Jeremy.
He was asked why primary schools in particular were included when their students don’t drink alcohol.
Councillor Larry Baldock also argued for removing places of worship from the list of businesses that liquor outlets should, as he says it is too restricted and anything including a house could be deemed a place of worship.