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Auckland City’s draft alcohol ban bylaw endorsed

Auckland City’s draft alcohol ban bylaw endorsed

Today’s City Development Committee endorsed a draft bylaw that will allow the council to introduce alcohol bans in the city’s public places.

Under section 709A-H of the Local Government Act 1974, the council has been able to use either event bans (eg Christmas in the Park) or ongoing bans (eg central city alcohol ban) to curb alcohol related incidents in its public places. The Local Government Act 2002 includes a new bylaw making process which Auckland City must follow should it wish to maintain existing or create new alcohol bans.

Chairperson of Auckland City Council’s Law and Order Committee and member of the City Development Committee, Councillor Noelene Raffills, says the council has received numerous requests for alcohol bans from members of the public, community boards, Mainstreet organisations and the police.

“People are fed up with the noise, violence, litter, vandalism and damage inflicted by drunks in our public places. The disorderly behaviour and criminal offending linked to the drinking of alcohol in public places is detrimental to the social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing of this city,” she says.

The draft bylaw gives the council the power to prohibit people from bringing, carrying or drinking alcohol in specified public places. This includes the possession or drinking of alcohol in vehicles within ban areas.

Alcohol bans do not cover private property or licensed premises, including any outdoor pavement seating attached to licensed premises.

The bylaw also allows alcohol to be carried through ban areas to and from private homes and licensed premises as long as the alcohol is promptly taken from the ban areas. Off licenses are not affected either – as long as the alcohol purchased is removed quickly from the ban area.

The bylaw states that in most cases people must be given the opportunity by the police to leave the area or tip their alcohol out before they or their car are searched.

In certain circumstances, such as special events, the council can give the police the power to search and confiscate alcohol from anyone within a ban area with no warning. To do this, the council must first place a public notice in a relevant newspaper at least 14 days prior to the event detailing the ban area and specific time period when the police may exercise this power. Signage indicating the ban area must also be erected.

The police can confiscate alcohol as evidence. The legislation allows the courts to issue a fine of up to $20,000, if a conviction is made.

Before introducing either on-going or one-off alcohol bans for special events, the draft bylaw states that the council must be satisfied that: alcohol is likely to be present in the public place on the days and periods specified in the ban there are justified reasons for having an alcohol ban the scale and nature of the ban is reasonable private rights are not being unnecessarily or unjustly invaded the public have been consulted and their views taken into account.

Bylaws must be seen to be ‘reasonable’ and not interfere with rights protected by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

If approved by the full council at its meeting later this month, the bylaw will go out for public consultation in November and December. The cost of developing this new bylaw is estimated at $30,000.

It will be strengthened by the use of other strategies, such as public education, advocating for more police and the implementation of the council’s Alcohol Strategy.

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