A Sydney-style lockout law that bar owners feared would cripple Wellington’s nightlife has been rejected.
Police and public health officials wanted the Wellington District Licensing Committee to impose a 3am lockout condition on Siglo bar, in Courtenay Place, which was applying to renew its 4am licence.
Police and bar owners have been anxiously awaiting the committee’s decision on what all sides regarded as a test case for the city licensing laws.
On Thursday it granted Siglo a 4am licence and rejected the one-way door condition, which would have prevented anyone entering or returning to the bar after 3am. Those already inside could have stayed until 4am.
The committee accepted that alcohol-related harm was a problem in Courtenay Place, but it was not satisfied a lockout would reduce that harm “by more than a negligible degree”.
This is a good outcome. As I have previously blogged the Police have been trying to usurp the powers of law makers and unilaterally determine licensing hours. Parliament voted against having a one way door condition policy and so did the Wellington City Council. But the Police has threatened license holders they they want them to agree to one, or have the Police object to their licence. That threat has been neutralised now by the Wellington District Licensing Committee.
This reinforces for me that the abuse of their powers by the Police should see a law change. Their role should be changed to merely reporting on how a license holder has complied with the law, rather than advocating what they think the hours should be.
Wellington area commander Inspector Chris Bensemann said the decision would be carefully reviewed before police decided whether to appeal.
I doubt an appeal will be successful as the Police case has no evidence behind it at all.