Liquor licence objectors will have their voices heard

The objectors, stand in front of 145 11th Avenue Retreat, for which a liquor licence application was made.

The dogged determination of a group of Retreat residents who objected to a liquor licence application – even after it was conditionally granted by the Western Cape Liquor Authority’s (WCLA) Liquor Licensing Appeal Tribunal – has resulted in them being given an opportunity to present their objections to the tribunal.

The application for an off-consumption licence at 145 11th Avenue Retreat was first made in December 2019 and granted earlier this month after going through an appeal process.

The Retreat Steenberg Civic Association (RSCA), however, questioned the conditional approval granted by the Appeal Tribunal, which was communicated in a letter dated February 9.

On hearing about the conditional approval of the application, the civic association called a meeting with the residents of the area on Saturday February 20. Their spokesman, Tony Lawrence also went to the Authority’s offices to state their case.

Pastor Mark Killian from the New Life Apostolic House who was involved in the objection process two years ago, said: “I don’t have the dates, the objection survey was done before the closing date. I hand-delivered most of the documents to the manager of Sub-council 18. I was also able to retrieve all the documents that are now in possession of the RSCA.”

He said organisations which had objected to the liquor licence application included the New Life Apostolic House, Leaders in Covenant Fraternal that represents various churches in the greater Retreat, Steenberg and Grassy Park area, Second Chance Rehabilitation Centre that is directly opposite the Retreat Day Hospital, Retreat Haven Night Shelter and Douglas Murray Home.

“The petition was signed by surrounding residents and congregants that use the Retreat Day Hospital and have to pass the premises of the application to get to churches, baby clinic, maternity clinic and day hospital. Please be reminded that pregnant mothers, senior citizens and school children must pass this facility.

“We as the community are opposed to the application and fully support the Retreat Steenberg Civic Association,” said Pastor Killian.

St Mary’s Primary School, in Retreat Road, is opposite the premises which has applied for a liquor licence.

Mr Lawrence said the community had been shocked to hear that the Liquor Licence Tribunal (LLT) had conditionally approved the liquor licence application despite these organisations and 112 individuals having submitted written objections as required by the Western Cape Liquor Act of 2008.

Mr Lawrence said he had gone to the offices of the WCLA after numerous failed attempts, over a period of three days, to speak to someone there.

“I spoke to Mr J Dreyer to seek clarification on the exact process to be followed to appeal the decision. Mr Dreyer notified us that the objections were considered by the Liquor Licence Tribunal (LLT) and the original decision was not to approve the application.

“However, the applicant’s appeal was considered by the Appeal Tribunal, and (the judge) upheld their appeal – without giving the original objectors the opportunity to be represented at the appeal hearing or to be able to appeal the judgement in writing.”

Mr Lawrence said: “This flies in the face of democracy and raises the serious question as to whether due process was in fact followed, as well as how a judge can refuse the application in the first instance and only on the appeal of the applicant, change his decision in favour of the applicant.

“To this end, Mr Dreyer informs us that the conditional approval is final and that the only recourse the community has, is to request reasons for the Tribunal’s decision to grant the approval of the application for a liquor licence as mentioned, above, and, to monitor the business and to report any breeching of the conditions of the licence.”

Still convinced that the process of the application was flawed Mr Lawrence said: “Although we have been told the licence has already been finally approved, that the appeals process is closed, and that the incorrect form letter has been sent to the objectors, we will follow what the letter advises us to do, as outlined, above.”

When Southern Mail contacted the Liquor Licence Tribunal deputy director of communication, education and stakeholder relations, Rebecca Campbell, said due process had not been followed and that the decision to conditionally grant the licence, had been waived.

“Following concerns raised by objectors participating in the application process of the licence, the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) took up the matter with the Liquor Licensing Appeal Tribunal.

“It became evident that when the appeal was lodged, due process was not followed by the appellant. The appellant therefore agreed to waive the decision to conditionally grant the licence.

“An appeal notice will be served by the appellant on the objectors, who may then make representations to the Appeal Tribunal. Subsequent to that, a virtual appeal hearing will be set down, where the objectors who submit representations on the appeal will be afforded an opportunity to present their arguments against the granting of the licence at the Appeal Tribunal hearing.”

On Friday February 19 Mr Lawrence said the WCLA had also called him to say that the applicant was supposed have informed the objectors of the Appeals Tribunal so that they (the objectors) could hear the appeal and present their objections.

“Now to prepare for the Appeals Tribunal and get the application for a liquor licence finally rejected.”