Public can have say on alcohol policy

Auckland residents will have their say on a proposed crackdown on bar hours and alcohol sales across the city.

The Auckland Council overwhelmingly approved for public consultation on the controversial policy to close pubs and clubs at 3am in the city and Ponsonby, and 1am everywhere else.

The city councillors shot down a last-minute reprieve for early-morning supermarket shoppers during the council meeting today.

The proposed local alcohol policy would also restrict hours for off-licences by limiting alcohol sales to between 9am and 10pm, including supermarket trading.

Councillor Cameron Brewer pushed for supermarkets to be exempt from the proposed rules, but the amendment failed to gain majority support.

Early-morning mum and dad shoppers would be unfairly penalised by the proposed restrictions, he said.

"We don't want to go back to the future of putting up cordons around supermarket alcohol sections ... given they only sell wine and beer," he said.

Under the far-reaching alcohol proposal, bars would not be able to sell shooters, shots or many cocktails after midnight throughout most of the city and not after 1am in city and Ponsonby bars.

There would also be a cap on the number of off-licences operating in some Auckland areas.

This could deny new supermarkets permission to sell alcohol in some suburbs.

It is not just supermarket shoppers who could be affected by the proposed rules.

More than 100 DJs have set up a group, Dance Till Dawn, to protest against earlier closing times.

Auckland DJ Rob Warner, who is heading the group, said clubbers tended to be aged 30 and were are not to blame for booze-fuelled crime.

"The average club-goer is music motivated. They're not motivated by alcohol," he said.

"We see a different scene from what the police report."

Closing clubs earlier would turn off international acts since clubbers would refuse to pay cover charges just to be sent home at 3am, he said.

The proposed local alcohol policy comes after new national 4am closing time for bars was introduced in December 2013.

The Government also restricted off-licence hours from 7am to 11pm.

Local council policies can override the national hours but Wellington's proposed 5am closing is being appealed by police and health authorities.

Auckland councillors voted 20-1 to support the proposal going out for public consultation.

Following consultation, the council is expected to report back on recommendations by November.

Any changes are unlikely to take effect this year.