A GROUP of Winton residents has expressed concerns about an application for a new bottle store in their town, painting a picture of existing issues in the community.
With a population of just more than 2000, Winton has three liquor stores, and a vocal group hopes to keep it that way.
The objections, outlined in public submissions, follow a similar situation in Riverton where residents ultimately put an end to an off-licence application from Otautau Hotel at a hearing in August.
That same month, the Southland District Licensing Committee received an application from Hospitality Licensing Ltd on behalf of an applicant wanting to set up The Bottle O in Winton.
The applicant, Vitthal Enterprises, owns and operates The Bottle O in Otatara, near Invercargill.
In its application, Vitthal Enterprises said it wanted to expand to Winton to become part of the community.
“We are applying for a licence to be able to sell alcohol seven days a week, 9am to 10pm.
“These are the maximum trading hours, and will only really be used on the lead-up to Christmas or other holiday periods.”
But pockets of the community have hit back.
Winton Medical Centre, represented by Dr Caroline Stewart, said it strongly opposed the application because of the effects of alcohol on people’s health, judgement and well-being.
Dr Stewart said her practice saw the effects of alcohol on people’s health on a daily basis and worried a new licence could lead to price competition and increased harm.
“We are seeing increasing numbers of people with mental health issues, both youth and adults and on a weekly basis.”
“In the community it is well known that parents will buy alcohol for their underage children to drink at social gatherings.”
Darren Frazer said he was a youth worker in Winton between 2000 and 2018, during which he saw first-hand negative effects of alcohol on young people and their families.
Mr Frazer questioned the need for the three off-licences already in the town, and shared the medical centre’s concerns an extra store would drive prices down.
Having worked in both Dunedin and Southland, Mr Frazer said the problem in Southland was “far greater”.
Central Southland Presbyterian Parish expressed concerns the proposed store would be near residential flats and a preschool.
The parish regularly picked up empty bottles and broken glass from the street and was “dealing with” young people using alcohol, parish representative John Willis said.
“We are seriously concerned about the health and well-being of these vulnerable people and their families.”
Lexee Dunlop submitted on behalf of the Salvation Army Winton and said its clients had complex needs, and alcohol was often a factor.
Hospitality New Zealand Southland branch president Graham Hawkes said Vitthal Enterprises was not a member of his organisation and said the community was already well supported by the existing off-licences.
Those include New World, Super Liquor Winton and Winton Top Pub.
“Bottle O is an offshoot… of Tasman Liquor, an Australian-owned company, who do not support New Zealand franchises or the communities where they are situated,” Mr Hawkes said.
Meanwhile, Winton Community Support Worker committee chairwoman Sharyn Goodman said family violence investigations in the Winton police area showed numbers were among the highest in Western Central Southland.
She expressed concern numbers could increase with more alcohol accessibility.
A Southland District Council spokesman said the licensing committee had not yet decided on a date for the hearing.
- Matthew Rosenberg is the Local Democracy Reporter