Disgruntled bar owners say they're being unfairly penalised by Auckland Council's efforts to curb drunken disorder with new bylaws.
The draft Local Alcohol Policy has been developed over 18 months by the council and other interested parties.
It would, if approved, divide Auckland into three broad licensing areas and a raft of new rules is proposed for each.
But some proprietors claim tightening opening hours won't eliminate drunken troublemakers.
Ali Yildiz owns Massimo in Takapuna on the North Shore where the proposed bylaws would limit licensed bars and restaurants to a 1am closing and force alcohol retailers to shut at 10pm.
He believes the council is missing the point.
"If someone wants to get alcohol, they'll get alcohol," he says.
Yildiz, originally from Turkey, says New Zealand's drinking culture is mostly to blame for public drunkenness.
Yildiz also owns the Spy Bar night club on Auckland's busy waterfront viaduct and says staff refuse to serve intoxicated people and will eject drunken patrons.
John Hellebreker, managing director of Takapuna's The Elephant Wrestler, says most people dealt with by police for alcohol related incidents have bought their drinks from a bottle shop or supermarket.
Varying opening hours will exacerbate "migration problems" by driving drinkers to Auckland's CBD where later opening hours will be available, he says.
Councillor and Auckland Community Safety Forum chairman George Wood firmly backs the draft proposal he's been heavily involved in putting together.
"I've got to say it's a bloody good document," the former policeman says.
"This is where the hard yards on alcohol laws begin," he says. "I've never been involved in a council policy that has had so many conflicting opinions - the problems we've aired and the result we've got reflects well on what the community is thinking."
Wood says building consent rules, which supersede alcohol laws, already prevent bars from staying open late in many cases.
But the draft policy allows for the possibility that "best practice operators" can apply for extended opening hours.
Yildiz's Spy Bar would fall under zone a of the alcohol policy, allowing it to stay open until 5am, if granted an extension. Massimo, in zone b, could trade until 3am.
Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams, says allowing exceptions defeats the purpose of the proposed rules.
"There is no point in allowing trading up to 5am when we already know that this is contributing to alcohol-related harm. It's simply counterproductive."
Public submissions on the Local Alcohol Policy will open mid-June and run for a month.
- North Shore Times
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