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Council adopts alcohol ban bylaw

MEDIA RELEASE
27 February 2004

Council adopts alcohol ban bylaw

Auckland City has adopted a bylaw that will allow the council to maintain the central city alcohol ban and introduce bans in the city’s other public places.

The alcohol ban bylaw will come into force on 8 March 2004.

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 included a new bylaw-making process which Auckland City had to follow if it wished to maintain existing or create new alcohol bans.

Chairperson of Auckland City’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.

During the special consultative process, Auckland City received 25 submissions to the draft bylaw, 19 of which supported the bylaw.

“People are fed up with the noise, violence, litter, vandalism and damage inflicted by drunks in our public places,” says Mrs Raffills.

According to an evaluation carried out by Auckland City late last year, the central city alcohol ban has contributed to a significant reduction in disorderly behaviour and increased public perceptions of safety. Police statistics reveal a decrease in reported incidences of disorderly behaviour and criminal offending. Auckland City staff have noted a 25 per cent reduction in litter in the central city since the ban was introduced.

The 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.

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 will 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 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.

The alcohol bylaw will be strengthened by the use of other strategies, such as public education, the establishment of Alcohol Accords, liquor licensing measures and the implementation of the council’s Alcohol Strategy.

The bylaw can be viewed in all community libraries, Auckland Central Library and on Auckland City’s website www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/bylaw

Ends

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