The New Liquor Centre Masterton on Upper Plain Rd. PHOTO/ELISA VORSTER

ELISA VORSTER

elisa.vorster@age.co.nz

What do alcohol, children and school buses have in common?

It would seem quite a bit if you live on Upper Plain Rd.

The owner of the New Super Store dairy, Bhupen Maisuriya, will be opening a liquor store within the next few weeks and not everyone is happy about it being right next to a school bus stop.

Colleen Parker, a mother or three who has lived in the area for years described the location of the liquor store as “a bit weird”.

“I’ll probably be a hypocrite and use it at some point but I don’t know why we need one right next to the kids’ bus stop.”

The New Liquor Centre Masterton marks the location where a small private bus which shuttles students from Fernridge School and Masterton Intermediate School stops to drop off children in the afternoons.

Ms Parker was there last week waiting for her five-year-old son to be dropped off, while her three-year-old was asking what the words on the store window said.

“This is the other thing, I have small children asking what words say and I now have to explain to them what liquor means.”

However, Mr Maisuriya said his customers were happy with the new store and the council hadn’t received any objections during the public notification period.

“The customers are very happy it will be here,” Mr Maisuriya said.

“They said it’s handy they don’t have to drive into town now.”

Owner of Madison Hair Studio Jordan Watene said a few of his customers had been asking about what was going in the shop next door and were a bit wary.

“Most people aren’t thrilled about it,” he said.

In 2014, Masterton District Council prohibited the New Super Store dairy from selling liquor as it was selling far more liquor than food, despite being classed as a food store.

Council advised the recent application process had been adhered to and had only received one objection from the public during the public notification period.

While the council prepared reports as part of the application, it did not make the final decision on the application to sell alcohol, as this was made by the Masterton District Licensing Committee with assistance from police, medical officer of health and licensing inspector.

A spokesperson for the council confirmed the bus stop was considered as part of the inquiry and included site observations and discussions with bus companies.

Mr Maisuriya didn’t see any conflict with having a liquor store next to the bus stop, nor did he think it would it cause any issues for the children frequenting his dairy after school.

If anything, he agreed it was a better solution than his situation in 2014, as the alcohol would now be in a separate shop to the one the kids go into to buy lollies.

“There’s not many kids who use the bus, only two or three and they can’t see in the liquor store because of the painted sign on the window,” he said.

The store was granted its off-licence at the end of last year and will be open once indoor refurbishments had been completed.