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Council signs taxi deal in booze blitz

Last updated 05:00 02/11/2012

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Getting home from a night on the tiles will be easier and cheaper with the introduction of a partnership between Auckland Council and Co-Op Taxis.

The latest initiative in Len Brown's battle against a booze-riddled downtown Auckland will see a capped or fixed fare system introduced before Christmas.

Reducing alcohol-related incidents and a new way to get home safely after a night out in Auckland's city centre are priorities of the Mayoral Taskforce on Alcohol and Community Safety.

The pilot system will operate during specific hours on specific nights and use a swipe card with a prepay option.

The council has obtained funding for an initial rollout of 10,000 cards from the Health Promotion Agency (HPA) and the scheme is supported by the hospitality industry.

Already the taskforce action plan has seen liquor ban breaches and other anti-social incidents in the city centre plummet by 50 per cent, and more than 90 per cent of off-licence outlets in the area voluntarily withdraw single-serve drinks from sale.

Mayor Len Brown says taskforce members have worked together to increase safety in central Auckland so people feel safe while enjoying the city's entertainment and coming and going from their homes and jobs.

"It has been a real collaboration with a positive impact greater than the sum of its parts and the results show what the community can achieve with goodwill and existing regulatory tools we have," Mr Brown says.

"Communities will have more tools to limit alcohol-related harm once the government passes the Alcohol Reform Bill."

The taskforce is made up of key stakeholders including the council, police and hospitality industry representatives.

It was formed in June to urgently address alcohol and safety issues within Auckland's central city.

Mr Brown says since then council staff and police worked closely with the private owners of car parks and other premises identified as popular "preloading" hot spots.

Landowners agreed to implement private liquor bans and let police trespass anyone drinking in these spots.

Lighting has also been improved in these areas.

As a result of these measures police report a significant decrease in preloading behaviour.

The taskforce will now pass its ongoing programme of work to Auckland Council's Community Safety Forum.

Ongoing work and new initiatives include working with Hospitality New Zealand on a code of conduct for on and off licensed premises, investigating further door staff violence-control training in conjunction with the police and Rape Prevention Education, and options for increased communication and information exchange between premises.

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Mr Brown is also continuing to advocate for the government to progress the Alcohol Reform Bill.

"The bill is the single-most important factor in giving the council and local communities greater control over the impact of alcohol in their areas, including limiting liquor licences around schools, protecting public places and managing opening hours."

- Central Leader

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