Auckland risks becoming a “nanny city” compared to party-friendly Wellington if a proposal to cut bar hours is adopted, a city councillor has warned.
Hot on the heels of new national 4am closing hours for bars, the Auckland Council wants to close Auckland pubs and clubs even earlier – at 3am in the city and Ponsonby, and 1am everywhere else.
Bars would not be able to sell shooters, shots or many cocktails after midnight throughout most of the city and not after 1am in city and Ponsonby bars.
The council’s proposed local alcohol policy, set to be approved for public consultation tomorrow, also specifies more restrictive hours for off-licences by limiting alcohol sales to not before 9am and not after 10pm.
National laws that began in December 2013 set off-licence hours from 7am to 11pm.
Auckland city councillor Cameron Brewer lashed out at the proposals and said Wellington would be the biggest winner from the proposed policy.
“This policy will make a joke of council’s latest marketing campaign that promotes Auckland as ‘the show that never stops’.”
Auckland has also made the same mistake as many other Councils and not distingished between types of off-licenses. There’s a difference between people going into a bottle store to buy more spirits for a party and people wanting to buy a bottle of wine at the same time as they are doing their weekly groceries shopping. The proposed Auckland policy will inconvenience many responsible shoppers and drinkers – while not actually reducing alcohol abuse. A more targeted policy could reduce the inconvenience with no trade off in terms of reducing alcohol abuse.
Brewer said Auckland’s “puritan” laws had taken the new powers “to the extreme”. Events like champagne breakfasts for the Rugby World Cup or Commonwealth Games would become illegal with new minimum opening hours of 9am, he said.
Brewer said the limiting of off-licence hours would annoy a lot of people.
“Wine and beer will be roped off like we used to have in the old days when you couldn’t buy alcohol from supermarkets on Sundays. It’s ‘back to the future’ stuff,” he said.
“Mum and dad shoppers won’t be able to buy wine or beer with their weekly groceries before 9am and after 10pm.
“It makes no sense, particularly the morning ban . . . These grocery shoppers are not the problem.”
But councillor George Wood, who supported the proposal, said on-licence operators would be able to apply for extensions after a 12-month trial.
George is of course a former Police commander, and the Police view is that nothing good ever happens at 3 am. That’s an appalling view. I’ve been in town many times after 3 am with friends – and none of us have ever caused problems.
Wood said the Wellington City Council proposed 3am in its draft but 5am was adopted after consultation.
So will the Auckland Council listen, like Wellington did?