Christchurch Council spanked again

Stuff reports:

Bars in a central Christchurch street fighting a proposed 1am closing time have had “a win”.

The High Court has ordered the Christchurch City Council to reconsider its alcohol policy after the hospitality sector raised concerns about its decision-making over Victoria St. …

Brett Giddens, who owns Boo Radley’s bar, in north Victoria St, called the decision “a win for common sense”.

He said the council’s decision was “flawed”.

“Hopefully they take the opportunity to reconsider the entire process as it has been a substantial waste of ratepayer money to date.”

Giddens said a group of affected bar owners had been involved in the review process since 2013, supported by Hospitality NZ.

“The decisions that have come out to date have been very overwhelmingly in support for the bars on Victoria St that took the early risk to establish in the central city,” he said.

“Everyone involved in the appeal is still waiting for the council to pick up the phone and communicate what they are going to do to fix this. “

Hospitality NZ (HNZ) said it had “no other choice” but to seek a High Court review. The council spent more than $91,000 defending its policy. 

Some Councils think that they can insert whatever conditions they like in a LAP. They don’t understand the Act, which requires decisions to be based on evidence.

Mike Yardley weighs in:

HNZ sought such assurances, but in a defiant act of petulance, the council refused to provide any clarity, prompting HNZ to seek a judicial review in the High Court.

In late June, the court issued its decision, strongly ruling in favour of HNZ, confirming that “the council is directed to address the reconsideration decision afresh” in accordance with Decision 43’s intentions for Victoria St.

Despite the colossal waste of ratepayers money on these losing legal capers, the council doesn’t even seem to have the good grace to publicly accept it got it wrong.

Head of strategic policy Helen Beaumont replied to me: “The Council is considering the implications of the decision. It is currently taking legal advice and will not comment further at this stage.”

And earlier on:

When the council first embarked on crafting its LAP in February 2013, it wanted to shoehorn the city’s nightlife scene and late-night trading into a tightly designated pocket of the central city. For the likes of Victoria St, a closing time of 1am was proposed, despite its spectacular evolution into being the city’s premium entertainment precinct.

Last year the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority (ARLA) ruled that Christchurch’s LAP had 13 elements that were “unreasonable”, requiring the council to “reconsider” those elements.

Again LAPs need to be based on evidence, not just the whim of staff or Councillors.

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