‘Prohibition’ for Porirua?
Liquor ban on the table
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 email@example.com.