Mossel Bay Municipality's draft liquor by-law on new trading hours was met with fierce resistance by the majority of local liquor traders, during public meetings this week.
The chairman of the Mossel Bay Guesthouse Guild, Louis Cook, described the trading hours as impractical and ill-conceived. He pointed out that bed & breakfast establishments, amongst others, are excluded from the by-law in terms of the current definition of a guesthouse or hotel. Hotel owners agreed that the trading hours would impact negatively on their profit and client satisfaction. Many traders questioned the absence of their councillors at the meetings, calling it a valuable lost opportunity to respond directly to the concerns of the business community.
Liquorwise, well-known national liquor licencing consultancy, confirmed that all liquor traders support the fight against the negative effects of alcohol abuse. However, they felt that the amendment of trading hours would have very little impact, but to irritate the public and to affect their businesses negatively. Mr Leon Ellis of Santos Liquor store, said, "Profit margins of all liquor stores are already under extreme pressure in the current economic climate. The proposals will mean a loss of 200 - 600 trading hours. Few liquor stores will be able to survive and substantial loss of income and job losses will follow".
Liquor traders stated their intention to lodge a collective submission before the due date.
The Municipality's representative at the public hearings, mr Jan Burger, was not prepared to speculate on the council's response to the opposition of the liquor traders. He assured liquor traders that all submissions would be scrutinised before the local council will take a decision.