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'Ugly boozing won't stop'

JESS LEE
Last updated 05:00 22/11/2013
Teens Drinking

LAST ORDERS: Bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs will only be allowed to open from 8am to 4am once a new liquor law comes in to effect on December 18.

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New liquor legislation may be calling time on 24-hour liquor licences but councillor Mike Lee thinks the law change doesn't go far enough to clean up Auckland's ugly boozing reputation.

Bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs throughout the country will be allowed to open between 8am and 4am from December 18.

Bottle shops, grocery stores and supermarkets will be allowed to open from 7am to 11pm.

Mr Lee would like to see Auckland bars and clubs restricted to a 1am closing time.

"There is a lot of money being made in the early hours of the morning, and that's OK, but we are all aware of the drunkenness and the violence that's occurring during that time in Auckland," he says.

"We have to recognise that we have a problem and just allowing the river of booze to flow until 4am I don't think is responsible."

The council is developing a local alcohol policy which will govern the sale, supply or consumption of alcohol in the region.

A draft plan will be released for full public consultation early next year with the final policy to be adopted and implemented towards the end of 2014.

Mr Lee says restricting alcohol trading hours even further may mean hospitality outlets make less money but could save lives and prevent injury and damage.

"Maybe it will restore Auckland's reputation because what's happening now is pretty ugly."

An alcohol-related harms research report carried out by Nielsen for the council last year found Aucklanders' attitudes to intervention are mixed.

Seventy-four per cent of 2215 residents surveyed agree it is "too easy for people to get hold of alcohol" but more than half say the "actions of a few irresponsible drinkers should not be used as a reason to restrict responsible people from drinking".

Respondents rate the inner city and the rest of central Auckland among the places most affected by the negative impacts of drinking, including violence and wider economic costs.

K' Rd Business Association planning manager Kathy Moriarty doesn't think the new legislation will be detrimental to the entertainment precinct.

"Most people have had their fill by 4am," she says.

Businesses on the infamous K' Rd strip have accepted and are prepared for the changes.

"There are probably a few who wish it wasn't happening but we've had quite a lot of lead-in so people are prepared."

A default closing time could make policing popular areas easier, Ms Moriarty says.

THE NUMBERS

3800 - Licensed premises

1800 - In the CBD

12,000 - Liquor licence applications a year

2000 - Special licensing applications

32% - Of national licensed premises

2342 - Permanent liquor ban areas

$745m - Alcohol sales in Auckland


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