WCC vs bar owners

Kerry McBride at Stuff reports:

Wellington city centre bar owners are looking at legal action to fight plans they say could kill Wellington’s nightlife.

officers have presented a briefing to councillors on the draft local policy, suggesting a precinct approach to trading hours, with different hours allowed for different areas.

Three “entertainment precincts” in Courtenay Place, Cuba St and the waterfront would be allowed licences until 5am, while other inner-city bars would have to shut at 2am.

Suburban venues and a “high risk” zone around Newtown would be restricted to midnight closing.

At present, 3am licences are standard for inner-city bars, with some “best practice” owners able to apply for later licences.

A group of 14 bar owners, representing more than 30 venues, is now investigating an injunction to stop the proposal reaching the council table.

Matt McLaughlin, who owns three bars, said the industry was sick of being pushed around by the council when off-licences and people drinking at home then going out were the real issue.

“It’s not fair because we are not the main problem. We’ve had a gutsful.”

Bryce Mason, owner of Sandwiches in Kent Tce, said the policy would be the death of his bar, which would fall outside the main entertainment zone, restricting him to a 2am licence.

Sandwiches closing at 2 am would be ridiculous. The concept of different times for different zones is not a bad one, but the areas can’t be arbitrary. To have Sandwiches close at 2 am and bars 50 metres up the road closing at 5 am is nuts.

Steve Drummond, from The Green Man pub, said kicking people out of bars at 2am would create huge problems in the streets, and force more people into fewer venues.

It would destroy some businesses, but “we are not going to stand by and let that happen”.

if some bars close at 2 am, it won’t mean their customers will go home. They will go up the road.

Councillor John Morrison said the restrictive hours would completely change the bar scene of Wellington and make events such as the rugby sevens impossible to host effectively.

“The hospitality industry is vital here, it’s our lifeblood. It’s completely contrary to the economic goals of the city to shut things down like this.”

A 2 am closing after the Sevens would be nuts.

The whole CBD should be treated as one area. May be very sensible to have some suburbs on different hours, but bars that are within walking distance of each other should be treated the same.

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