Alcohol move pleases
A RETHINK on how late Auckland’s suburban bars can stay open is being hailed by Kingsland businesses.
Chairman of the Kingsland Business Society Steve Gillett says the group has been pushing back at a proposal for on-licences to close at 1am.
And it seems those investigating the new rules have listened.
The proposed Local Alcohol Policy has been through public feedback and hearings.
Auckland Council needs to review the provisional policy, which suggests on-licences be allowed to stay open until 3am.
It’s a different story for onlicences in the city centre.
Bars and clubs there will be allowed to stay open until 4am if the recommendations are adopted by council.
Councillor Bill Cashmore, who led the policy debate, says trust will play a role in ensuring licence holders comply with new rules.
‘‘As a growing city with more metro centres, a closing time of 3am is appropriate for the rest of the city.’’
Gillett, who opened The Kingslander bar a decade ago, says a 3am closing time will take the pressure off public transport networks.
He says businesses are concerned a 1am closing time could see buses and trains crammed with intoxicated punters.
The extra two hours will see the commute home staggered and keep the streets clear of customers, he says.
For big nights, such as the Cricket World Cup semifinal at Eden Park on March 24, a 1am curfew would have throttled business, he says.
‘‘For us that means that they come over at 11.30pm and after an hour-and-a-half we’d have to tell them to go home.
‘‘I’m happy they’ve seen some sense,’’ he says of the policy recommendations.
The hospitality industry is already struggling with new legal alcohol limits for drivers, as it restricts how much customers will spend, Gillett says.
A special rule has been suggested for Returned and Services Associations, which may be allowed to open at 5am on Anzac Day.
Gillett says the special rule could be extended to include other on-licences for international events, such as the Rugby World Cup in Europe later this year, where a time zone difference sees kick off often at 5am NZ time.
The policy will be published in May. After the appeals process in June, a final policy will be signed off by council. Concerns about the connection between alcohol and anti-social behaviour were aired during hearings last year.
Mayor Len Brown says he doesn’t want to comment on the policy until the process is complete.
Brown says the proposed policy will give communities greater say on alcohol sales and his attitude towards alcohol was spurred by ‘‘the conversion of dairies into bottle shops left, right and centre’’ in the early 1990s.
Auckland City Police District Commander Superintendent Mike Clement spoke at one of the policy hearings in September and told the Auckland City Harbour News of police concerns.
‘‘The link between alcohol and violence is undeniable.’’
New Zealand Police supports much of the policy but does not agree with the extended hours.
Kingsland Business Society chairman Steve Gillett, who owns The Kingslander, supports a proposed 3am curfew for on-licences outside of the CBD.