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Consulting on hours for licensed premises in CBD

MEDIA RELEASE
17 June 2005

Council consulting on hours of operation for licensed premises in CBD

Auckland City has decided that the section of the revised alcohol strategy relating to hours of operation for licensed premises will undergo further public consultation.

At the March 2005 council meeting, concerns were raised about the strategy's proposed hours of operation. Councillors asked officers to report back on whether a blanket 3am closing time would be more appropriate for licensed premises in the CBD. Concerns were also raised about whether “entertainment facilities” should be exempt from other licensed premises conditions.

The Public Safety and Community Order Committee, in line with advice from the Police, have recommended against a blanket 3am closing time for all licensed premises.

They believe that increased numbers of bar and tavern patrons leaving licensed premises might create a "6 o'clock swill" scenario, thereby increasing the possibility of public disorder in the central city, especially around service facilities such as taxis and food outlets.

If a blanket 3am closing time was introduced, this would mean that between Fort St and the Viaduct Harbour area alone, 150 licensed premises would be closing at the same time.

Police submitted that staff rosters would need to be re-evaluated if all premises were to close at 3am and said that, while this was achievable, it was not desirable.

Currently any bar, restaurant or tavern in the CBD can get a 24/7 licence. A formal alcohol strategy would help reduce alcohol-related harm in the city, provide council with a review process for licensed premises and provide flexibility for licensees.

Councillor Graeme Mulholland, chairperson of the Public Safety and Community Order Committee, says that having a formal alcohol strategy will add huge benefits to the alcohol policies the council has implemented so far.

"We hope that it will mean that we keep a vibrant city, but one where alcohol is managed responsibly by everyone", says Mr Mulholland.

Public consultation is likely to commence in August. The results will then be collated in September and a hearings process will follow for those wishing to make oral submissions. The final strategy will go to both the Public Safety and Community Order and the Planning and Regulatory committees in October or November and, pending their decisions, go to council in November or December for consideration.

The alcohol strategy has been strongly influenced by central government’s national alcohol strategy and has had input from a number of external agencies including the Hospitality Association of New Zealand, Alcohol Healthwatch, Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand and the New Zealand Police.

Ends

Note to editors:
The following amendments to the alcohol strategy were also adopted:
allowing any new licensed premises in the CBD to open until 3am. These hours can be extended if certain conditions are met. Entertainment licences (nightclubs) will be granted 24/7 licences. If complaints are substantiated then licensed premises could, through the Liquor Licensing Authority hearing process, have their closing times brought back to an earlier time
outdoor seating areas to close at 1am
off-licence premises will have a 1am closing, excluding supermarkets which will be able to apply for 24/7 licences
mini bars in hotel rooms and tourist houses in the CBD will be exempt from the above limits where it can be established that accommodation is the principal activity. This recognises that where mini bars are situated in rooms it is unrealistic to prevent consumption outside set hours.

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