‘Pro­hi­bi­tion’ for Porirua?

Liquor ban on the ta­ble

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

A pro­posal for Porirua to have a city-wide liquor ban, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has been met with de­ri­sion from the mayor.

Mayor Nick Leggett says it is a form of ‘‘pro­hi­bi­tion’’ that would not work ‘‘in the real world’’.

A Porirua City Coun­cil hear­ings sub­com­mit­tee heard oral sub­mis­sions last week on the re­view of pro­posed amend­ments to the liquor ban ar­eas in the city.

Af­ter urg­ing from po­lice and other com­mu­nity groups, the by­law was put up for re­view in 2010, with em­pha­sis on ‘‘newly iden­ti­fied high­risk ar­eas’’, where there was the po­ten­tial for al­co­hol-re­lated crime.

It was sug­gested the Porirua CBD and Can­nons Creek Shop­ping Cen­tre liquor ban zones be in­creased, the lat­ter adding Wai­tan­girua, and much of Ranui and Bro­ken Hill be in­cluded.

Ten sub­mis­sions were re­ceived by PCC and six were heard at the hear­ing last Wed­nes­day.

Along with the Whitby Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion want­ing its town cen­tre and Ad­ven­ture Park con­sid­ered for a liquor ban – sec­re­tary Paul Carey said ‘‘tag­ging and dam­age has just ex­ploded’’ lately – Stephen Palmer from Re­gional Pub­lic Health (RPH) pre­sented a pro­posal.

While he ac­knowl­edged the need for a ‘‘fun­da­men­tal shift’’ in at­ti­tudes to­wards drink­ing in New Zealand, one po­ten­tial an­swer was a 24/7 ban on drink­ing in pub­lic, right across the city.

Nowhere else in the coun­try had this in place, but it was be­ing tri­alled in Aus­tralia.

He cited fig­ures from a sur­vey done last year by Porirua Al­co­hol and Drug Clus­ter that found nearly 72 per cent of those sur­veyed, aged 13-18, drink al­co­hol, com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age of 61 per cent. More than 80 per cent said their pre­ferred place to drink was on the street.

Mr Palmer said the cur­rent ap­proach of cer­tain pub­lic places be­ing al­co­hol free was ‘‘frag­mented’’ and con­fus­ing for res­i­dents. A blan­ket strat­egy of­fered a bet­ter tool for po­lice.

Some coun­cil­lors at the hear­ing voiced scep­ti­cism of a 24/7, city­wide ban.

Sub­com­mit­tee chair­man Tim Shep­pard called it an ‘‘ex­treme po­si­tion’’ and said the by­law re­view was still in its early stages, with a re­port and rec­om­men­da­tion to the strat­egy, fi­nance and reg­u­la­tory com­mit­tee due in March.

Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett was scathing of RPH’s po­si­tion.

He told Kapi-Mana News the sur­vey they quoted was ‘‘flimsy at best and not sci­en­tific’’ and re­in­forced neg­a­tive stereo­types of Porirua.

‘‘I’m very con­cerned [they] ap­pear to want to use Porirua as their punch­ing bag in pur­suit of their pub­lic pol­icy agenda.

‘‘ Youth drink­ing is a prob­lem ev­ery­where in New Zealand, not just in Porirua. Pro­hi­bi­tion is not some­thing that has a his­tory of work­ing par­tic­u­larly well in the real world.

‘‘As a com­mu­nity and a coun­try we need to fos­ter a cul­ture of sen- sible drink­ing, rather than try and ban it.’’

Porirua Se­nior Sergeant Steve Sar­gent said RPH’s pro­posal was ‘‘a lit­tle bit dra­co­nian’’. The rec­om­mended ex­ten­sions to cur­rent liquor ban ar­eas were what po­lice re­quired. A city-wide ban would likely stretch their re­sources.

‘‘There are cer­tain places we get prob­lems like the CBD, Ti­tahi Bay Shop­ping Cen­tre and the beach, along with Can­nons Creek and the parks around there. We want some of these ar­eas widened and I think it makes sense to add Whitby too, with the Scout hall suf­fer­ing about $40,000 worth of dam­age in the last few months. Big­ger liquor ban ar­eas just give us more teeth but I’m not sure that [RPH’s pro­posal] would work.’’

What do you think of the ar­gu­ment for a city-wide ban of al­co­hol con­sump­tion in pub­lic places? Email journo@kmananews.co.nz.

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