No ID, no al­co­hol, no ex­cep­tion

Northern Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - EMMA DANGERFIELD

‘‘Ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed’’ is how the Waimakariri District Li­cens­ing Com­mit­tee’s act­ing chair is feel­ing af­ter a se­ries of liquor li­cens­ing breaches in the re­gion.

Con­trolled pur­chase oper­a­tions (CPOs) car­ried out re­cently re­sulted in eight fail­ures in eight months. To put that in per­spec­tive, that’s eight more than there have been in the past eight years.

Com­mit­tee act­ing chair Neville Atkin­son said the fail­ures, which oc­curred across the district, high­lighted a dis­turb­ing trend to­wards non-com­pli­ance by sports clubs and restau­rants, in­clud­ing BYO premises.

‘‘This is not just tav­erns and ho­tels, it’s across the whole in­dus­try,’’ he said. ‘‘Eight in eight months is sim­ply not good enough.

‘‘It may be more dif­fi­cult for sports clubs as they have younger mem­bers but all that means is they need to be more vig­i­lant. The big­gest ex­cuse is ‘it’s not my fault’.’’

Atkin­son knows bet­ter than most the pit­falls of run­ning a li­censed premises — as an ex­pub­li­can who has been in­volved in the in­dus­try for nearly 30 years he un­der­stands both sides of the is­sue.

The law was in place for a good rea­son, he said, and while the drink­ing age may have changed, the ba­sic rule re­mained the same: do not serve any­one who is un­der­age.

‘‘Serv­ing un­der­age peo­ple has not changed in all the years I’ve been in­volved. If some­one looks un­der 25, please, please ask for ID. If not, no ser­vice.’’

Atkin­son said the mea­sures were strictly en­forced as a re­sult of the pub­lic ask­ing for that to hap­pen, due to con­cerns over al­co­hol harm. Young peo­ple also needed to un­der­stand why they were be­ing asked for ID, he said.

‘‘The con­se­quences are se­ri­ous — the liquor li­cens­ing com­mit­tee is al­most equiv­a­lent to a court of law. There will be cross- ex­am­in­ing by us, the po­lice, the of­fi­cer of health... It’s a big or­deal.’’

A CPO fail­ure will re­sult in be­ing charged by po­lice, the Al­co­hol Reg­u­la­tory and Li­cens­ing Au­thor­ity (ARLA) will be in­volved and the premises will be closed for two or three days, even for a first of­fence.

On top of that the per­son who served the un­der­age per­son may also be charged, and the duty man­ager will face hav­ing their li­cence sus­pended for 30 days.

A hold­ing will be put on the busi­ness which will in­cur ad­di­tional fees re­flect­ing the fact it is in a higher risk cat­e­gory, and three hold­ings in three years re­sults in be­ing out of busi­ness.

Atkin­son said a let­ter would now be sent out to all li­cense hold­ers who he urged to ‘‘get the mes­sage and fix it’’.

‘‘Ev­ery­one will be tested at some point. It’s a mat­ter of when, not if.’’

LAWRENCE SMITH/STUFF

The District Li­cens­ing Com­mit­tee is dis­ap­pointed in a string of re­cent liquor li­cens­ing breaches.

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