A stoush is brewing between Wellington bar owners and police over lockout laws.
Bar owners around the Courtenay Place nightlife hub have accused police of trying to “force” a one-way door policy on the capital’s party precinct by objecting to every 4am licence renewal.
Hospitality New Zealand Wellington regional manager Dylan Firth said police had approached many licensees and indicated that, if they did not accept conditions, police would oppose the licence renewal, and the licensee would have to go to a hearing, racking up considerable legal costs.
More outrageous behaviour from the Police. Their submissions on licences should be focused on the track record and behaviour of the licensee, not on what hours they open.
The Police submitted to both Parliament and the local Council wanting an earlier closing time for bars. Their views were heard, and the democratically elected MPs and Councillors voted for a 4 am closing time.
But not content with this, the Police are effectively trying to bully bars into closing earlier, trying to have their licenses removed unless they comply. This is awful behaviour. Again the Police should only be submitting on how well the licensee complies with the law.
Police had made it clear they intended to seek a one-way door condition on each new on-licence application, and each on-licence renewal, in the Wellington CBD, he said.
A one-way door policy would stop anyone entering a bar after a set time, such as 2am or 3am. Those already inside at the cutoff time would be allowed to stay until the 4am closing time.
An issue which was again considered carefully by Parliament and the Wellington City Council. They heard all the evidence and decided that a one way door policy would cause more harm than good. But the Police know better than the law makers, so they use their special position to try and have their will imposed.
Nick Mills, whose family employs 160 people in its group of businesses including Bettys, Public, Hummingbird, Boston, Edison’s Superette, The Tasting Room and Spruce Goose, said Courtenay Place was nothing like it used to be, and a one-way door policy would be detrimental to business, as it had been in Sydney.
“No-one is thinking about the hundreds of workers who will have to start again when a business shuts.”
The legal battle to renew a licence for Siglo saw him spend eight times more than it would usually cost for a licence, he said.
“Places like Edison’s only open two nights a week, and paying for the legal fees for a licence would cost at least 50 per cent of its profit for a year. It’s ludicrous.”
He never had a problem with the police before, and thought of them as allies.
“I don’t think they should oppose [bar] owners trying to renew a licence when they have an exemplary history in the industry. They are trying to change the law by force.”
I think it is time for the Police to be hauled into line. If necessary the law should be changed, so the only issues they can submit on to licensing authorities is the track record of the licensee in obeying the law.