Bottleshop deferrals welcomed

THE deferral of supermarket bottleshop applications has been welcomed by residents and councillors who hope more members of the community will become engaged in the debate.

The Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority said on Thursday it would defer eight applications for licences, including Aldi applications for Newcastle, Hamilton, Cessnock and Muswellbrook.

On the first two, it is waiting for more up-to-date alcohol-related crime statistics and submissions on alcohol-related crime and density of licensed venues, and in the Hunter the delay will allow conferences to be held with applicants and objectors including local police, local councils and NSW Health.

Newcastle City councillor Tim Crakanthorp said the deferrals showed there needed to be more community discussion of individual applications, preferably before they were submitted to the authority.

"That's the reason I will be putting a notice of motion in February to the council for that discussion to take place," Cr Crakanthorp said.

"It's a hot issue in terms of community concern. There's a lot of alcohol-related violence in Newcastle and it's certainly something that's in the consciousness of most people in the Newcastle local government area."

Tony Brown, from a coalition of inner-city residents and small businesses, said many of the negative effects of increased liquor licence density couldnot be so easily measured.

"What about the young man who steps in front of a train, or gets run over by a car; that sort of harm is not covered by crime statistics," he said.

Statistics in a Hunter New England Health submission reveal a much higher density of liquor licences in the Newcastle local government area compared with NSW and higher rates of alcohol-related assaults.

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