Views sought on council’s alcohol policy
Trading hours, bottle shops and oneway door conditions are key parts of a draft local alcohol policy released today for public consultation by Matamata-Piako District Council.
Changes in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act allow councils to develop their own policies relating to sale, supply and consumption.
At a previous council workshop, stakeholders including the police and district health board said ensuring safety and reducing alcohol-related harm in the community are high priorities.
‘‘An underlying culture of pre and side-loading and binge drinking is acknowledged by many stakeholders as the cause of much of the alcoholrelated harm,’’ said a staff report tabled at last Wednesday’s council meeting.
Options include shorter maximum trading hours than set out in the Act for on and off-licences; one-way door restrictions (lockout when leaving licensed premises); and restrictions on the location of bottle store.
In a recent survey of community views, 58 per cent of people thought alcohol is a problem in MatamataPiako and many commented on the intimidating behaviour, assaults and violence caused by those who have been drinking. There was also feedback that local bars contribute a sense of community and provide a good opportunity for socialising, said the report.
At community focus group meetings the hospitality sector expressed concern that it will be disadvantaged by more restrictive trading hours and enforced one-way door restrictions.
However, said the council staff report, the police, medical officer of health and licensing inspectors are firm that the LAP needs to be ‘‘clear and consistent, in particular by providing a strong signal about the licensing environment sought for the district’’.
An application for a bottle shop in Te Aroha, which attracted a petition bearing 1500 signatures in opposition, was recently granted – using current legislation – by the National Alcohol Regulatory & Licensing Authority.
A similar approach, relating to the Mobil Service Station site in Morrinsville, is also scheduled to go to hearing on a date yet to be set by the authority.
The LAP is open to public comment until November 18, with hearings on December 5.
It could be implemented by the end of June, 2014 at the earliest.