Lo­cal say lost in booze move


Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JOE DAW­SON

COM­MU­NI­TIES hop­ing to have a greater say when booze mer­chants plan to open al­co­hol out­lets in their neigh­bour­hoods may be dis­ap­pointed with the Auck­land Coun­cil’s plans.

The coun­cil has voted to es­tab­lish a re­gion-wide pool of peo­ple to form the new District Li­cens­ing Com­mit­tees, which will de­cide if liquor li­cences can be granted.

Thirty com­mit­tee mem­bers will be avail­able to hear, in threes, ap­pli­ca­tions that draw op­po­si­tion from af­fected com­mu­ni­ties.

The new sys­tem is a re­sult of the Sale and Sup­ply of Al­co­hol Act 2012 and must be oper­a­tive by De­cem­ber this year.

But the cho­sen op­tion did not have an easy ride, with half the coun­cil­lors pre­fer­ring an al­ter­na­tive that of­fered more op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal knowl­edge to be utilised. Un­der that op­tion nine area-based com­mit­tees would have been set up to pro­vide for a de­gree of lo­cally based de­ci­sions.

This was also the pre­ferred op­tion of half of Auck­land’s 21 lo­cal boards, in­clud­ing Al­bertE­den, Maun­gakiekie-Ta­maki, Puke­ta­papa and Waitem­ata.

At the coun­cil’s Au­gust 22 meet­ing mem­bers were split down the mid­dle with mayor Len Brown us­ing his cast­ing vote to set­tle on one op­tion.

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board mem­ber Pauline An­der­son led the board’s con­sul­ta­tion with the coun­cil.

‘‘We went for the nine district li­cens­ing com­mit­tees which is what ev­ery­one thought would give a fair say to com­mu­ni­ties,’’ she says.

‘‘The whole point of this new Auck­land re­form was to give com­mu­ni­ties more say and I don’t see how they are giv­ing it to us.

‘‘Ev­ery­one thought lo­cal boards would have a say and the com- mu­nity thought the lo­cal boards would be mak­ing de­ci­sions on how, when, where and who a liquor li­cence is granted to.’’

To in­volve com­mu­ni­ties hear­ings will be held in the area re­lat­ing to a li­cens­ing ap­pli­ca­tion and a lo­cal com­mit­tee mem­ber will be sought where prac­ti­cal.

Al­bert-Eden coun­cil­lor Chris Fletcher voted in favour of nine com­mit­tees and says those con­di­tions are a ‘‘cop-out’’.

‘‘This is a real be­trayal of our com­mu­ni­ties and their as­pi­ra­tions to have al­co­hol is­sues dealt with in a far more mea­sured fash­ion.

‘‘This was an op­por­tu­nity that the gov­ern­ment has fi­nally given us and we’ve wasted that op­por­tu­nity.’’

The re­gion-wide pool was rec­om­mended by coun­cil staff be­cause it re­quires fewer mem­bers – 30 rather than 45 – and should al­low greater re­gional con­sis­tency.

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