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Alcohol Ban aims to make Christchurch safer

Extended Alcohol Ban Areas aim to make Christchurch safer

A proposed new bylaw that would put Alcohol Ban Areas in place around the district was approved for consultation by the Christchurch City Council today in an effort to improve community safety. Consultation on the proposed bylaw will open on 28 January and close on 2 March 2009. Public hearings will take place after that.

The bylaw was developed in partnership with the Police and is aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm, limiting damage and disorder and improving community safety.

Called the 'Alcohol Restrictions in Public Places Bylaw', it would replace the current liquor control bylaws, and continue some existing Alcohol Ban Areas as well as putting new Alcohol Ban Areas in place. The Council is required to have these bylaws reviewed by the middle of next year.

Councillor Sue Wells, chair of the Council's Regulatory and Planning Committee - which considered the bylaw during its development - says: "In a nutshell, within the Alcohol Ban Areas, people wouldn't be able to consume alcohol in public places (like parks, footpaths, riverbanks, beaches or roads), and there would also be restrictions on having alcohol in public places in Alcohol Ban Areas, whether it's being consumed or not. The restrictions are generally the same as those in our current bylaws. There are some conditions around times and days of the week in the various areas and people really need to have a good look at each specific proposal."

Councillor Wells says she is pleased the Council has been working closely with the Police to establish where Alcohol Ban Areas could have a positive impact on the city. "This bylaw has a particular quirk. The Council can't enforce it, but the Police can. And the Police can't make the bylaw, but the Council can. That's the way the law works. So effectively, both the Council and the Police have to be in agreement about the bylaw or it just won't work. We have to make our bylaws in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act," she says.

"We looked at a number of other areas which were not included in the final proposal, for a variety of reasons. For example, we can't impose a bylaw on every public place; that's going beyond our powers. We looked at all parks in the city - again, it didn't meet the tests that the Act contains. And we looked at various particular other locations and discounted a bylaw for them as the way forward at this point in time" she says.

The proposed bylaw would continue the existing alcohol restrictions in the Central City, South Colombo and Sumner Esplanade areas, as well as the New Year's Eve ban in Akaroa. The bylaw would also include new Alcohol Ban Areas in Hagley Park, around the Northlands Mall area, the New Brighton Mall, Marine Parade and Pier area, and in Jellie Park.

Some of the alcohol restrictions would be in place at all times, while others would only be in place over weekends or late at night. The proposed bylaw would also provide the Council with the power to put Temporary Alcohol Ban Areas in place, such as to control an event

The Police indicate that the bylaw would provide an effective early intervention tool to manage or prevent alcohol-related harm. Christchurch Central Area Police Commander Inspector Gary Knowles says the proposed bylaw would contribute to addressing alcohol issues at a local level and give the Police another tool to deal with alcohol issues.

"We have worked closely with the Council, sharing our intelligence on where the ban areas could be used to the best effect, and the bylaw will add to our tactical approaches to addressing problems arising from drinking and intoxication on our city streets," says Inspector Knowles.

Councillor Wells and Inspector Knowles both agree that the bylaw is by no means a complete solution to reducing alcohol-related harm, but that it is part of the solution They say such bylaws are most successful when they are part of a wider approach to tackling alcohol issues, and there are lots of other things that complement the proposed bylaw at central and local government levels, as well as non-government initiatives. These approaches work at different levels to address alcohol-related harm in our communities, they said.

The proposed bylaw will go out for consultation in late January through until early March. The results of the consultation and the bylaw will then be put before the Council in May/June, and the new Alcohol Ban Areas could be in place by July 2009.

Background information

The proposed Bylaw does not cover anything related to licensed premises (such as location, number or opening hours of bars etc). Licensed premises are regulated under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.

The proposed bylaw would be made under the Local Government Act 2002, which allows local councils to make bylaws for 'liquor control purposes' and specifies the scope of such bylaws.

A bylaw made for liquor control purposes can only regulate alcohol in public places that are under the control of the Council.

The Act also gives the Police the power to enforce bylaws made for liquor control purposes and to confiscate alcohol, to search people or vehicles (in certain situations), and to arrest people for breaching the bylaw.

Of the 73 territorial local authorities in New Zealand, all but ten have some form of bylaw to control alcohol in public places.

ENDS

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