“We got wrong. Badly wrong. And despite the warnings and legal challenges we rode roughshod over District Plan rulings and ploughed on with a defective Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) that became a cot case, clocking up over $1.3 million dollars in costs to the council, with nothing to show for it.
“Hubris trumped common-sense and we unreservedly apologise to residents and ratepayers for this shambles, which we pledge to avoid repeating again.”
This is the statement that the Christchurch City Council should in all good conscience be issuing to the public, as they seek to the turn the page on the multi-million dollar train-wreck that their junked LAP represents.
Yes they should apologise for ignoring the law and thinking the legislation allowed them to ignore having an evidence basis for their policies.
On Thursday, in a public-excluded session, city councillors voted to abort their provisional Local Alcohol Policy and start afresh. Council staff will now prepare options for a brand-new draft LAP, with an expectation that it becomes operational within 18 months. But as is the case in so many council matters, the tail will wag the dog as regulatory policy is crafted.
Councillors will be hoping like hell that council staff will take stock of the fundamental flaws in their previous still-born LAP and not set the stage for another multi-million dollar legal stoush. Council policy officers cost the ratepayer a fortune by thumbing their nose at regulatory decisions emerging from the Independent Hearings Panel into the Christchurch Replacement District Plan.
Frankly, the individuals responsible should have been sacked. But if the next Local Alcohol Policy process is to avoid becoming an action-replay of the previous profligate debacle, pandering to zealotry should be avoided at all costs.
It is ominous that Canterbury’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr Alistair Humphrey, has already waded in, telling The Press that “the original LAP was good,” hoping the new one will be similar.
This is the guy who compares food companies to cocaine cartels. If he thinks the original LAP was great, that tells you everything about it.