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Liberty Belle: Major Lunacy Sighting In Ponsonby

Liberty Belle

Sometimes it's the little guys who make a difference. This week I was sent a copy of "Bay News" – a Ponsonby/Herne Bay community newspaper, which carried a major lunacy sighting. Correct me if I'm wrong (I've been away) but I haven't seen this story in any of the big dailies (too obsessed with, as Gerry Brownlee puts it, Tammy-Hairy and his hollycost remarks).

"Café curfew threatens jobs, investments. Liquor ban would hit peak trading hours" read the headlines on the double page spread. It seems anti-smoking laws are being used as an excuse to shaft Auckland restaurateurs. Control freaks at the Auckland City Council are dead set on imposing curfews on the cities' restaurants. The council's liquor licensing inspectors are pushing for a 10pm closing time for outside dining, on the grounds that outdoor diners – who because of the new PC laws now include those who wish to smoke a cigarette – are causing noise and pollution.

What utter poppycock. What's the difference in the noise made by a smoker and a non-smoker? Yes, I accept that cigarette butts all over the place do not please the eye, but neither does chuddy all over the footpath, so why doesn't the council ban chewing gum?

According to the Bay News, Marietta McLeod, a licensing inspector for the council, told the Ponsonby Alcohol Accord in February that the council is unlikely to issue new licences for outside areas and "10pm seemed a reasonable hour of the night to shut down". It's outrageous that the council can arbitrarily damage private businesses in such a cavalier way. Some restaurants have licences to stay open until 3am. They don't get going until 9 or 10 in the evening. Council licensing inspectors might like to be in bed with a book by sunset, but others of us like a late night supper with a wine or three. These restaurants will be forced out of business by this draconian, retrograde step. Others that manage to survive will have to sack staff. Waitering is the mainstay of the student population – does the council not care about the local economy?

Good grief! Next we'll be returning to six o'clock closing! It's time the Minister for Auckland Issues, Judith Tizard, confronted that favourite mayor of hers, Mayor Dick, and stuck up for the businesses I'm sure she likes to patronise. Ms Tizard's not a person to turn down fun – I'm sure she'll tell Mayor Dick to sort out his bureaucrats.

This is lunacy in the extreme. And good on Glenys Hopkinson, publisher of the Bay News, for exposing such stuff.

Yours in liberty

Deborah Coddington

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