Pokie pol­icy raises con­cerns

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

A li­cens­ing trust is con­cerned its fund­ing to com­mu­nity groups is be­ing hin­dered be­cause of the Auck­land City Coun­cil’s sink­ing lid pol­icy on pokie ma­chines.

The coun­cil’s pol­icy means the gam­bling ma­chines are de­com­mis­sioned when a venue closes down and can’t be moved to an­other premises.

Portage Li­cens­ing Trust mem­ber Dun­can Macdon­ald says the loss of the ma­chines means the trust can’t pass on thou­sands of dol­lars in rev­enue to com­mu­nity groups.

The Penin­sula Ho­tel in Avon­dale had to close af­ter a new lease agree­ment could not be reached with the owner.

And the trust had to say good­bye to the pok­ies at the site as well.

The trust came close to los­ing more ma­chines from Richardson’s tav­ern in Owairaka af­ter the New Zealand Trans­port Agency de­cided it needed the land for the Waterview con­nec­tion.

The gov­ern­ment’s re­vised plan for a com­bined sur­face and tun­nel mo­tor­way means Richardson’s can stay open, but will lose part of its drive­way to the mo­tor­way.

Mr Macdon­ald says there should be a con­sis­tent gam­bling pol­icy across the re­gion.

“In Waitakere, they are civilised and set a cap on how many poker ma­chines are al­lowed,” he says.

“But in Auck­land city if you change ad­dress, you can’t take them with you,” he says.

Auck­land and Manukau have a sink­ing lid pol­icy, while Waitakere and North Shore have a cap, with no new ma­chines.

Auck­land city’s arts, cul­ture and recre­ation group man­ager Ruth Stokes says the 2004 pol­icy is un­der re­view and changes could be made.

“Some of the in­di­ca­tions from the re­search show that while the num­ber of ma­chines has fallen, the amount of money go­ing through them hasn’t re­duced,” she says.

“The ob­jec­tive is to re­duce harm. There is a pos­si­ble ar­gu­ment that the pol­icy is not achiev­ing its goals.”

Coun­cil com­mu­nity ser­vices com­mit­tee chair­man Paul Gold­smith wants to see the full re­view be­fore he makes a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

But he ac­knowl­edges in some cases the sink­ing lid pol­icy cre­ates some dif­fi­culty.

“We are go­ing to be looking at whether to stick with the strict sink­ing lid or do we of­fer some flex­i­bil­ity and move to a cap,” he says. “Th­ese are the ba­sic op­tions.” The com­mit­tee will make its de­ci­sion in Au­gust be­fore ask­ing for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion. Tired of the clogged truck traf­fic on Neil­son St?

Don’t fret, a res­o­lu­tion may be at hand.

Man­aged lanes have been sug­gested at this month’s Auck­land City Coun­cil trans­port com­mit­tee meet­ing in a re­port by se­nior trans­port plan­ner Daniel Newcombe.

The man­aged lanes could be a bus lane, a cy­cle lane and freight lane or a lane just for ve­hi­cles with two or more oc­cu­pants.

One­hunga Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion man­ager Amanda Kinzett wel­comes the pro­pos­als.

“Neil­son St is a night­mare,” she says.

“It’s backed up most of the day and there is a huge amount of busi­ness traf­fic and air­port traf­fic. We are the gate­way to Auck­land city and our roads have reached ca­pac­ity.”

Ms Kinzett says the road has been on the coun­cil’s agenda for years but has been con­tin­u­ally de­ferred.

The trans­port com­mit­tee sup­ports on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the New Zealand Trans­port Agency into man­aged lanes. The trans­port agency will be con­sid­er­ing fac­tors such as cost, con­ges­tion lev­els and traf­fic vol­umes.

Mr Newcombe’s re­port says changes are al­ready un­der way.

“Road widen­ing is in place and land pur­chases have been un­der­taken,” he says. “The corridor de­signs have been de­vel­oped so they can ac­com­mo­date man­aged lanes.”

Re­sults from in­ves­ti­ga­tions will be re­ported back in Oc­to­ber.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Fund­ing source: Portage Li­cens­ing Trust mem­ber Dun­can Macdon­ald wants the Auck­land City Coun­cil to change its sink­ing lid pol­icy on pokie ma­chines.

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