New Zealand Law Society - Increase in liquor licence objections by residents

Increase in liquor licence objections by residents

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There appears to be an increase in the number of residents and residents groups objecting to liquor licences and renewals in their neighbourhoods, the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority says.

In its annual report for the year to 30 June 2019, the Authority says this is supported by reporting from some District Licensing Committees.

"This is often a difficult and time-consuming process for more deprived communities, however, the Authority notes that some community law centres are providing assistance to resident groups," it says.

The Authority says some objectors can feel a sense of disillusionment when applications are subsequently granted where objections are premised on there being "no need for another alcohol outlet in the locality", or reporting agencies do not express opposition to applications.

"On the other hand, at least one District Licensing Committee has reported that it has been more difficult for new bottle stores to establish in its district when weighed against evidence of alcohol-related harm being brought by reporting agencies and objectors."

Reduction in enforcement applications

The Authority says there seems to be a reduction in the number of enforcement applications being made. However, it says it is unknown whether this corresponds to an increase in levels of compliance by licensees and managers.

"Reports from some District Licensing Committees indicate that controlled purchase operations and regular inspections of premises are useful tools to ensure licence holders are maintaining systems to ensure compliance with licence obligations. This has also been said to be leading to improved relationships between agencies and licence holders."

Applications decrease

New applications to the Authority and the number of applications on hand have decreased over the four years to 30 June 2019.

In the year to 30 June 2015, there were 723 applications, while in the year to 30 June 2019 there were 270 applications. The number of applications disposed of decreased from 984 in 2014/15 to 266 in 2018/19. Applications on hand at 30 June 2015 were 205, and at 30 June 2019 there were 83.

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