Dry or wet debate

Pick n Pay Fish Hoek has submitted a notice of appeal to the Western Cape Liquor Appeal Tribunal.

Fish Hoek’s dry-town status is once again hanging in the balance.

Pick n Pay has submitted a notice of appeal to the Western Cape Liquor Appeal Tribunal (WCLAT) questioning the decision by the Liquor Licensing Tribunal (LLT) to turn down an application to open a bottle store in The Arcade.

The LLT turned down the application lodged by Pick n Pay on January 27 last year in terms of Section 34 (1) (a) of the Western Cape Liquor Act 4 of 2008, saying it was not in the interest of the public (“Valley’s dry town status safe,” Echo, June 28).

In the 33-page appeal, Pick n Pay claims the LLT erred in refusing the application on the evidence before it and that it was in the interest of justice for the WCLAT to base its decision on new evidence provided.

Other applications have been turned down in the past due to the historic title-deed restriction prohibiting a “public wine house” in Fish Hoek.

The appeal states that according to the LLT, it had received objections to the application by more than 200 Fish Hoek residents that all relied on the title-deed condition.

The LLT stated in its reasons that it made no pronouncement on the interpretation of the restrictive title condition and merely referred to it as a reason cited by objectors.

But the appeal claims the LLT erred by not addressing comments a senior counsel advocate made in the application about the 1818 title-deed and that if those comments are correct, many of the objections are legally unsound and carry a lot less weight.

Other areas addressed in the appeal include the nature of the proposed liquor store and the track record of the applicant, the alleged lack of support for the application, comments made by Sub-council 19, the SAPS report on the application and the LLT’s reasoning with regards to objections received.

Social media lit up with comments after news of the appeal broke.

While some were angry about the appeal, others felt having a bottle store would improve conditions on the rapidly deteriorating Main Road and claimed the voting process had not been fair. However, Donald Moore, of Dry Fish Hoek, strongly disagrees with that.

He said all residents had had the same opportunity to lodge comments at the beginning of 2017 and the application received wide publicity as did the period for comment.

He said he was busy compiling a response to the appeal and did not want to comment before receiving a number of annexures omitted by Pick n Pay, including one which allegedly contains views expressed on social media in favour of the application.

But he did say his objection would seek to prove that the 1818 grant condition says exactly what it is believed to say and that the senior council advocate who advised Pick n Pay otherwise was mistaken.

He said Pick n Pay had failed in its application to provide any evidence to the LLT that a liquor licence would be in the interests of the Fish Hoek community and it had done so again in the appeal.

Mr Moore said he and his wife had been boycotting Pick n Pay for the past 18 months and he called on Fish Hoek residents to join the boycott.

Meanwhile Fish Hoek resident Alison Darby is mustering support from those in favour of a bottle store, under the banner “Wet Fish Hoek”. Ms Darby claimed there was an overwhelming lack of representation for those in favour of a Fish Hoek bottle store, judging by many comments on social media.

She said Fish Hoek was suffering from a serious identity crisis and was in the doldrums as ever more shops closed on the Main Road.

She said she failed to see how a small, select bottle store, housed in an arcade with specific opening times, would cause the upset many believed it would and that the concerns were exaggerated.

Upholding an ancient title deed from a different era was preposterous in 2018 while jobs could be created and residents could do shopping without having to travel elsewhere, she said.

“The Dry Fish Hoek lobby is very strong, vocal and somewhat intimidating, and does not represent the opinion of many residents and age groups,” she said.

She said that to represent a demographic cross-section of the community, comments from the Wet Fish Hoek lobby should be included.

She urged those in favour of the bottle store to attend the Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (FHVRRA) quarterly general meeting at the Fish Hoek civic centre on Thursday August 23, at 7.30pm, to have their say.

Gary Williams, co-owner of Pick n Pay Fish Hoek, confirmed the appeal and said the company respected its customers’ right to choose where they shopped.

“We strive to provide a quality service that caters to all of the residents of Fish Hoek, all of the commuters passing through Fish Hoek and indeed the residents of the far south in general,” he said.

The deadline for submissions is Friday August 24. The Western Cape Liquor Act Regulations indicate that any responding statements are required to be lodged within 14 days (excluding weekends and public holidays) of the notice of appeal which was Friday August 3.

* Objections can be sent to dryfishhoek@gmail.com and those in favour of the bottle store can send their comments to alison.darby01@gmail.com with “Wet Fish Hoek” in the subject line.