Kapiti bar license under review

RANDALL WALKER AND JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 11:55 20/09/2012

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Kapiti's sole late-night bar will likely have its hours cut and the Kapiti Lights complex will be under surveillance as police crack down on the area linked to two deaths in five weeks.

The Retro bar could be shut down in one of three options police were filing with the Liquor Licensing Authority.

"Their licence is up for renewal and we are in the process of applying to the LLA either for a cancellation of their licence or a reduction in hours [from 3am till 1am], or postponement of their licence," said Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan.

The hearing was scheduled for October 3, but the owner had been granted an adjournment as he would be overseas, said Mr Macmillan.

The owners of Monteith's Kapiti Junction, who had bought the neighbouring bar and renamed it the Cock bar, had also agreed to apply for a 1am rather than 3am closing licence, he said. Mr Macmillan said police did not want Kapiti bars open later than 1am, "because it has been shown that the one hotel that has the 3am licence is attracting people from other parts of not only Kapiti but Otaki, Porirua".

The men charged in relation to the deaths of Izak Millanta, 17, on August 11, and Sean Strongman-Lintern, 20, on Saturday, were from the Porirua region.

Mr Macmillan did not know why Porirua people chose to come to Kapiti rather than Wellington, which had more late night options, but assumed it could be because they had closer ties to this area.

However he said police also dealt with plenty of problems caused by local residents.

"Whether they come from out of town or they're up here, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to see the common denominator is alcohol."

He said problems being generated through alcohol and a lack of "social values" were being felt throughout New Zealand.

"Kapiti is not alone, it's just unfortunate that we are a small area, community, and we've had two tragic deaths in the last four- and-a-half weeks."

Mr Macmillan said police were working with Hospitality New Zealand to get an alcohol accord with all hotels in the area, as in Nelson where people banned for behaviour or intoxication from one hotel were banned from all other hotels.

He said police, Kapiti Coast District Council, iwi and other agencies had established a prevention network three weeks ago, the first move to make people aware of what help services are available and how to access them.

A closed circuit television camera would be installed on the police station this week, covering the Kapiti Lights complex, said Mr Macmillan.

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But he urged people to report crime, with inquiries into the deaths revealing that people were getting "seriously assaulted Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights, and we weren't hearing about it".

"It's unfortunate we're finding this out after the event," he said, adding that the fact complaints were not being made could be leading to retribution.

Inquiries into the weekend's death had also identified two locations within the Kapiti Lights/ Coastlands area where alcohol and changes of clothing had been stashed, "where people have been preloading prior to going in [to bars]."

Asked if reducing bar hours was not pushing late night drinkers out onto the street, Mr Macmillan said he would like to think "the majority of them" would go home.

"I don't see the need to be open past one o'clock, I think that's reasonable."

Monteith's co-owner Andrew Williams said the bar has held a 3am licence since it opened in 2010, but has never used it.

"Generally we're closing between 12 and 1 [am] depending on some factors around business and general attitude and feel of the bar. We don't think our market sits in that post-1am anyway."

He said if there was a "fair playing field" between all premises in Kapiti, the bar would happily hand in its 3am licence.

"We indicated that back in August . . . a fair playing field [would apply to] any licensee in the Kapiti Coast. We believe if you restrict one area they will literally move to the next place at 1am."

Improved lighting could be in place by the end of the week, and adjustments to CCTV could be done within 48 hours, he said.

- Kapiti Observer

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