By ERWIN CHLANDA
The owners of the Gapview Hotel say their turnover has dropped around 40% since there has been a highly visible police presence at the front of their premises – as there is at all takeaway liquor outlets.
Ray and Diane Loechel say the police action is “discriminatory in nature because only one type of people” are being targeted.
Seeing squad cars and vans parked in front of the pub is scaring away potential customers who “automatically assume there is an issue whereas there is no issue inside whatsoever.
“We all work within the Act and comply with what we have to comply with. It’s soul destroying,” says Ms Loechel.
Asked whether a high police presence isn’t what most locals are clamouring for, she says: “I don’t know. We live in the Northside and we went home the other day and within 20 metres of the police there was a fight occurring.
“And that was between people they are supposedly targeting over anti-social behaviour. It still occurs and they are still arresting a lot of people.”
She says police carrying out licence checks, dealing with outstanding warrants, making arrests and defecting cars slows down the traffic in and out of the hotel and bottle shop, often blocking the driveways.
“We are aware of alcohol problems in the town but there has to be another way of policing this without sending legitimate businesses to the wall.”
Ms Loechel says the pub has approvals for a refurbishment of the bar area and for accommodation units at the rear – projects which are now in doubt: “If we don’t have customers we won’t be doing it.
“The banks won’t lend us the money if we go downhill at a rate of knots.
“What are we telling the people of Alice Springs? You can’t go out to eat now?
“All of us are happy to work with police, all of us would like to sit down and work something out. We don’t like the violence and all those things that are out there.”
Ms Loechel declined to disclose the hotel’s turnover, and says it’s not possible to say how many people drinking in public in the vicinity have bought their grog at the Gapview.
“People have cars.They are highly mobile,” she says.
The Alice Springs News Online has asked the police to comment.