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Wellington in danger of losing its cool credentials

6 August 2013

Wellington in danger of losing its cool credentials through a backward LAP

Wellington is in danger of losing its ‘coolest little capital in the world’ title if it introduces restricted alcohol off-licence hours of opening says Brian Drake.

The New World Thorndon owner/operator says the Lonely Planet accolade was hard-earned, and no doubt partly inspired by the conviviality visitors to the capital rave about.

Wellington City Council is considering the implementation of a Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) that would see off-licence retailers of alcohol having to close at 9pm, instead of the default 11pm closing as allowed by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

“Part of Wellington’s sophistication is based on alcohol being available to responsible citizens in the later evening for them to take home, back to their hotel room or even to a backpackers,” says Drake.

“If we like to consider Wellington the equal of overseas cities, cutting back alcohol availability to 9pm certainly won’t help our coolness credibility.”

Drake says alcohol abuse is a societal issue that won’t be addressed by earlier closing of supermarket alcohol sales.

Based on weekly transaction data, of Foodstuffs Wellington’s supermarkets after 9pm customers 79% only buy groceries. By restricting alcohol sales the City Council is removing a freedom of choice for shift workers and others who can only shop later he says.

“It is also clearly evident that those people intent on pre-loading or binge drinking have purchased their supplies well before 9pm,” Drake says.

“Penalising the responsible vast majority in an attempt to curb this problem is to address the issue in a completely wrong manner. Most experts recognise that positive change can only be brought about through education and example-setting.”

Drake notes that New Plymouth’s council under its own LAP has voted to allow off-licences, including supermarkets, to sell alcohol until 11pm.

“I appreciate New Plymouth’s not a capital city, but perhaps the Lonely Planet will have to reassess whether Wellington’s deserving of its cool character through such an unsophisticated means of addressing the core issue of pre-loading and binge drinking.”


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