Do Wellingtonians really need to be able to buy alcohol after 10pm?
That question was posed on Monday at the first half of a liquor licence hearing for Pak ‘n Save Kilbirnie, where there were also suggestions the supermarket should take some responsibility for alcohol-related incidents in the suburb.
Police and the Regional Medical Officer of Health are both putting the heat on Pak ‘n Save to peg back the number of hours it sells alcohol, which is currently between 7am and 11pm.
Police want the hours cut-off at 10pm. But Pak ‘n Save argues that would be unfair given the Countdown supermarket across the road and near-by off-licences would not be subject to the same restrictions.
Once again the Police are trying to set policy. The City Council, under the law, sets maximum hours for off-licenses. But the Police tries to bully supermarkets into different hours.
Pak ‘n Save owner-operator Dean Galt said any restrictions would simply send those looking for alcohol across the road to Countdown Kilbirnie, which had a 7am till 11pm licence, and they would likely do the rest of their grocery shopping there as well.
“Unless everyone is on the same page, no, it’s not going to change the problem,” he said.
“It’s about convenience. If we don’t offer the customers what they want, they will go elsewhere for the whole shop.”
Sergeant Damian Rapira-Davies, of Wellington Police, put it to Galt that most people buying alcohol after 10pm were not buying large amounts of groceries as well, so the supermarket would not be losing that much business.
The Police are wrong, and they are basically making stuff up. I’ve done work in this area and the vast majority of people buying alcohol from a supermarket late at night (or early morning) are buying groceries also. And further they are ot buying alcohol to drink that night, just as part of their regular shopping.
But Galt disagreed and pointed to sales figures he said showed the proportion of groceries sold after 10pm was much larger than its alcohol sales.
The Police should argue on the basis of evidence, not personal preference.
Pak ‘n Save Kilbirnie was banned from selling alcohol for five days in June after allowing a pair of 16-year-old boys to buy booze.
But police said the supermarket was otherwise responsible and if it agreed to the 10pm close-off time then the police would remove its objection to the licence renewal.
This is how the Police operate – agree to our terms or we’ll object to your licence. It’s a form of legalised blackmail.
Rapira-Davies said the supermarket needed to take some responsibility for the alcohol-related harm in the Kilbirnie area.
“It’s our experience that people purchasing alcohol late at night are intending to consume it later that night,” he said.
From bottle stores yes, from supermarkets no. The majority are buying it with their weekly groceries to consume later.
“A proportion of the alcohol harm pictures needs to be recognised as belonging to the applicant … the largest volume [in the area] is sold by this licensee.
None of the alcohol harm belongs to the applicant. It belongs to those who do the harm. The applicant’s responsibility is to act within the law, not sell to minors or intoxicated persons.
“It’s not unreasonable for us to have formed that view.”
Actually it is. It is like blaming banks for people who take out cash and spend it on the pokies. The Police in Wellington constantly bully supermarkets.