Liquor outlet anger swells

Palmerston North residents are joining forces to oppose a new liquor outlet proposed for the corner of Botanical Rd and Tremaine Ave.

Palmerston North city councillor Billy Meehan said with a pub and a bottle store on one side of the intersection, and an off-licensed mini-market on another, the area did not need any more.

"A large percentage of the issues in this area are related to alcohol. It's not rocket science to work out Highbury doesn't need more liquor outlets."

I. S. Dhillon and Sons has applied to the district licensing agency for a new off-licence to set up a Big Barrel on the site of a former service station.

The group has outlets in Tremaine Ave, Princess St, Summerhill and in Feilding.

Co-owner Baldeep Dhillon said his business had been subject to misleading attempts to stir up opposition.

"A lot of people are painting a wrong picture."

He was concerned about an anonymous flier that had been posted around the neighbourhood that included the wrong name for his business and encouraged people to sign a petition.

He said he ran a responsible business. He had been the first to take party pills off the shelves, and would be first to stop selling single serves if that was recommended.

He would limit opening hours to less than the 9am to 10pm usually sought to avoid the "second serving" problem, where people who bought alcohol on the way home from work came back for more.

Big Barrel would support the local community through sponsorships, as he already did with a range of school and sports groups.

"We are not just here to put all the money in our back pocket.

"We are open to talk to the local people who have a concern.

"If I get the feeling they really don't want us, I will pull my application."

There are petitions circulating in the neighbourhood that complain that the Big Barrel would put the promotion of liquor "in the public face" on a high-profile corner near three schools and two kindergartens.

Mr Dhillon said so far there had been no objections to the liquor licence application from the police or council, but there had been plenty from all over the city and as far away as Horowhenua.

Some objections will be ruled invalid, as only a person who has a greater interest than the general public has a right to object.

Botanical Rd neighbours Des and Phyl Symons and Diane and Bruce Ayers are among them.

They are also upset because they had signed agreements with property owner Peter Kynoch about his plans to build offices for his own business on the site.

"We were thrilled with the agreement we had. We were quite happy. We sure as hell aren't now," said Mr Symons. "There will be all sorts going on at night, I guarantee it."

Mr Kynoch said things had since changed and he had alternative options for the site. He believed the neighbours should be much happier about the prospect of a nice, clean building next door than living next to a deserted area, which attracted anti-social behaviour.

The Symons' had put a locked gate at the entrance to their section to stop people using their front garden as a toilet.

The deadline for objections to the liquor licence application is the close of business on Monday.

Manawatu Standard