Police head calls for licencing freeze
Reactions to the draft Local Alcohol Policy have been mixed.
Businesses, police and hospitality industry representatives were among those who spoke at the final day of hearings on the policy on Tuesday.
Auckland City Police Commander Superintendent Mike Clement represented police for the whole of the Auckland region.
‘‘The link between alcohol and violence is undeniable. We see it as police in our communities every day,’’ he says.
The implementation of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act in December has had some impact but alcohol is still a factor in many crimes, he says.
‘‘There were some that thought [the introduction of the act] was going to be the end of the world and here we are talking about the impact that 4am closures have had.
‘‘I have to say the world hasn’t ended and we’re policing a much better environment than existed previously but you can see . . . since the legislation came in, there is still an awful long way to go,’’ Clement says.
The law change has allowed the council to come up with its own Local Alcohol Policy.
Rules set out in the draft would see pubs and clubs close at 3am in the city and Ponsonby, and 1am everywhere else.
Some ‘‘good operators’’ will be able to apply for extensions to their hours, except for areas covered by a priority overlay – those areas identified as experiencing greater levels
District of alcohol-related harm.
Off-licences would have opening hours restricted to between 9am and 10pm, including supermarkets.
New Zealand Police supports much of the policy but does not agree with the extended hours.
‘‘The notion of extensions to socalled good operators is perverse in the sense that it does no more than license premises to return to days of old which were characterised by disproportionate amounts of alcohol related harm,’’ Clement says.
New Zealand Police is proposing a freeze on the number of licensed premises until authorities can get a gauge on how successful measures have been, Clement says.
The policy could have unintended consequences for Ponsonby, businesses say.
The area is be treated in the same way as the city under the plan, which could see a large influx of people heading there after 1am when bars in other suburbs close, Ponsonby Business Association head Vivienne Rosenberg says.
Ponsonby is already a popular spot and many establishments won’t have the capacity to let patrons in, she says.
There could be an increase in anti social behaviour on the streets, she says.
‘‘It’s not that we don’t want more people. We’d like to say we could cope but we can’t.
‘‘We want to keep the status quo and staggered closing times.’’
About 66 per cent of businesses represented by the association are not bars or restaurants.
Ponsonby is also very much a residential area, Rosenberg says.