New Zealand

Timaru District Council local alcohol policy described as ‘draconian’ by councillor

Concern over South Canterbury’s “draconian’’ liquor licensing rules has prompted a lengthy discussion among councillors about whether bottles of wine should be sold at special events.

Citing the recent South Canterbury Business Excellence Awards, councillor Allan Booth questioned the point of allowing the sale of four glasses of wine, but not a bottle, describing the rule as “bordering on stupidity’’.

However, all councillors unanimously chose to recommend the draft

joint local alcohol policy (LAP), which allowed local variations to the controls of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

Any amendment to the policy required community consultation. In this case the council had proposed that “when setting discretionary conditions for special licences, the District Licensing Committee must have regard to the previous proven responsible history (if any) of the applicant’’.

The region’s three councils – Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie – had a joint policy since 2015, which was considered by them, as well as the medical officer of health, police and chief licencing inspector.

Under the Act, councils had to review LAPs every six years.

While Timaru District Council environmental compliance manager Debbie Fortuin told the council meeting the committee wanted to keep the existing policy “with one minor change to special licences’’, councillor Allan Booth said the liquor licencing rules seemed “quite draconian compared to the rest of the country’’.

“I did circulate an email to councillors regarding some feedback I got around some of our liquor licensing rules,’’ he said.

An aerial view of Timaru’s Caroline Bay.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

An aerial view of Timaru’s Caroline Bay.

“I’m a little bit concerned that we’ve pushed on a bit too hard.

“We had our business awards, which is our premium event down at the Bay Hall the other week, and these are businesses – Fonterra, Oceania, a number of groups – and you’re not allowed to buy a bottle of wine for the table.

“You are allowed to buy four glasses of wine at once, though.’’

He suggested the council needed to discuss the policy.

“And certainly we don’t need to be leading the world in our LAP rules and regulations.

“I’m not keen on approving anything until we actually have a good look at everything.’’

The council’s group manager environmental services Paul Cooper said the open bottle of wine on the table at events with special licences “might be something our commissioner could take into account, if she chooses to do so, but we don’t have the power to influence that’’.

Timaru District councillor Allan Booth has described the joint local alcohol policy (LAP) as “quite draconian”. (File photo)

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER/Stuff

Timaru District councillor Allan Booth has described the joint local alcohol policy (LAP) as “quite draconian”. (File photo)

“This recommended change that we have here is saying that if your event that you mentioned didn’t have any intoxication when we inspected it, and there was a proven track record of good behaviour and monitoring intoxication and managing it well – then that might be an option that the commissioner could use next time.

“Because, you could bring that up, refer it to this part of the LAP, the proposed LAP, in your application and ask that you be allowed to have bottles on the table.’’

However, councillor Stu Piddington argued this.

“The problem with your theory, Paul, is no-one knows that,’’ Piddington said.

“The form says you cannot have full bottles of wine.’’

Cooper said that was because that was the commissioner’s view, and “that’s how she’s going to implement that act – the purpose and object of the act being to reduce alcohol harm’’.

Timaru District councillor Stu Piddington says the policy seems ridiculous.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

Timaru District councillor Stu Piddington says the policy seems ridiculous.

Piddington asked “why would we do that” if it was out of step with other districts.

“It’s an independent body, councillor, so I can’t tell the commissioner what to do or not to do, but we can give directions through this policy which is what that clause is there for,’’ Cooper said.

Piddington said it seemed ridiculous.

“That’s my point though – if this clause is here, let’s take it out, because I’ve had complaints around the bottle of wine situation especially, as councillor Booth points out, four glasses is the equivalent of a bottle.’’

Councillor Owen Jackson then asked if other communities, or councils, would allow bottles of wine at events.

Cooper said other regions had discretionary conditions in their local alcohol policies that the DLC could apply to licence applications,, and then it was up to the commissioner.

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“If it’s a paper-only thing, where the commissioner’s looking at that, or if it’s the DLC, it’s up to the panel that is the DLC to decide what discretionary conditions they want on those licences.’’

He said allowing for a clause around special licences, meaning previous good behaviour would be taken into consideration when applying for one, was signalling to the commissioner, or the DLC, that she or he had to “take that into consideration’’.

“It’s giving that instruction that if you’ve got a good history, and you haven’t got a lot of intoxication or people vomiting – all the usual stuff you associate with excessive alcohol, then if you haven’t got that history then you would have that discretionary condition removed.’’

Councillor Michelle Pye moved the recommendation as it stood, seconded by councillor Stacey Scott.

The report would be considered by the Waimate District Council on September 19, and by the Mackenzie District Council on September 26.

The Waimate District Council will discuss the region’s draft joint local alcohol policy (LAP) on September 19. (File photo)

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER/Stuff

The Waimate District Council will discuss the region’s draft joint local alcohol policy (LAP) on September 19. (File photo)

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