Mayor urges liquor policy debate

BY KRIS DANDO
Last updated 09:56 20/11/2012

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Community involvement in an alcohol policy for Porirua is crucial, the city's mayor says, but it "won't have any teeth" until Parliament settles on its Alcohol Reform Bill.

The bill, in its final stages, attracted 9000 submissions nationwide. Its aim is to reduce alcohol-related harm in families and communities, and will determine things such as where alcohol can be sold and restrictions on advertising.

Under the new legislation, Porirua could have more input on the number and location of liquor outlets, and bylaws that govern drinking in public places, through a local alcohol policy.

Mayor Nick Leggett said such a policy can take up to a year to come into effect so wants the debate with the community started now.

"We need to be talking about this and get on the front foot. There are a number of mixed issues in Porirua and plenty to work through, especially regarding density [of liquor outlets]," he said. "We can set our own parameters about alcohol in the city but we need to hear from the public as there is going to be community control once the bill becomes law."

He said he's not a "wowser" and wants people to be able to drink sensibly "but alcohol carries problems in parts of this community".

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said local authorities should be creating provisional local alcohol policies so when the bill becomes law "they are ready to go".

"Councils know it's coming, so they're collecting data. There's a long lead-in and it can take a while to get residents on board, so having the debate now makes sense."

Groups such as Wesley Community Action and the Porirua Alcohol and Drug Cluster have previously advocated for an alcohol policy in the city.

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