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Public to have say on draft alcohol bylaw

Public to have say on draft alcohol bylaw

Auckland City today gave the go ahead to begin public consultation on a draft bylaw that will allow the council to introduce alcohol bans in the city’s public places.

The public will be able to comment on the draft bylaw in writing in November and during the oral submission process in mid-December.

Chairperson of the Law and Order Committee, Councillor Noelene Raffills, says it is important that the public voice their opinions on this issue. Submission forms will be available on the council’s website, in libraries and on the ground floor of the Civic Building.

“Submitters should include reasons for their comments, state which sections of the bylaw they support or oppose and whether they wish to make an oral submission at a public hearing,” she says.

The draft bylaw gives the council to power to maintain the existing central city alcohol ban as well as prohibit people from carrying or drinking alcohol in specified public places – this would also extend to vehicles parked or travelling through ban areas.

Councillor Raffills says the council has received numerous requests for alcohol bans in other problem public places from members of the public, community boards, Mainstreet organisations and the police.

“People are fed up with the violence, vandalism, noise and litter inflicted by people drinking in our parks, beaches and streets.”

An evaluation of the central city alcohol ban, introduced in September last year, revealed a 16.7 per cent overall drop in disorderly behaviour for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The amount of litter in the central city has also reduced by about 25 per cent and retailers and the police have noted a significant decrease in alcohol related incidents.

Under the Local Government Act 2002, Auckland City must follow a new bylaw making process if it wishes to maintain the existing alcohol ban or introduce any new alcohol bans.

Before introducing either on-going or one-off alcohol bans for special events, the council must have justified reasons for a ban, the scale and nature of the ban must be reasonable, and private rights must not be removed unnecessarily.

Any new alcohol bans would not stop people from drinking on private property, licensed premises such as bars and clubs or any outdoor seating attached to a licensed premise.

The bylaw would also allow alcohol to be carried through a ban area as long as people leave the area promptly.

In most cases, people would be given the opportunity by the police to leave the ban area or tip their alcohol out. However 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.

Councillor Raffills says the bylaw 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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