Cape Town - There was a mixed reaction from traders to a new draft of the Western Cape Liquor Amendment Bill at a sitting of the provincial authority yesterday.

The draft proposes 11 amendments to the legislation in an attempt to refine regulations and control liquor consumption in the Western Cape.

The MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, said the department wanted to reduce the red tape surrounding liquor licensing.

“These laws need to be easy – they can’t be so bureaucratic that we make it easier to be illegal,” said Winde.

“Liquor usage is a personal responsibility. Personal responsibility around alcohol is where we have to be.”

Key draft amendments include broadening accessibility to special event licences and a repeal of the provision prohibiting unlicensed individuals from possessing more than 150 litres of alcohol.

The draft would also repeal the prohibition on the sale or consumption of liquor in the grounds of petrol stations, a provision that had been introduced to discourage drinking and driving.

It would allow police officers with low ranks to inspect premises without a warrant and close down licensed vendors indefinitely.

Previously, the bill had allowed for closures to remain in force only until the end of the business day.

Danie Cronje, a liquor law specialist who manages a portfolio of liquor retailers for Cluver Markotter, was unhappy about increased police access.

“It’s the lower-ranking officials making a judgement about health, which is not in their expertise,” said Cronje.

Business owners also spoke out about a city by-law that came into effect on February 1, forcing stores to close at 6pm and prohibiting selling on Sundays,

“By the time people get out of work we’re closed and we’re really seeing a drop in sales,” said an Athlone store owner.

Thys Giliomee, chief executive of the Western Cape Liquor Authority, said: “You must apply to the city for extended hours.” - Cape Argus