Residents get little joy over grizzles about central city bars

Last updated 05:00 08/07/2014
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A group of inner-city Wellington apartment dwellers have failed to get authorities to clamp down on two late-night bars.

Residents from a Wakefield St apartment block complained that The Establishment, in Courtenay Place, and Edisons, in Blair St, were too loud, open too late and a source of drunken behaviour.

However, their concerns were not backed by Wellington City Council, noise control officers or the district licensing inspector.

The residents, headed by Judith Fyfe, told a recent Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority hearing that The Establishment was "one of the worst offenders in terms of loud music and low frequency bass reverberation".

"Ms Fyfe also had significant concerns about the behaviour of intoxicated customers, smoking outside on the footpath, hanging about in the street, shouting and often brawling.

"She said vomit, urine and broken glass in the streets, on the footpaths and in the doorways is a daily problem," said the authority's findings issued last month.

The group said the noise from Edisons was "at a very high inescapable level" from about 2am.

Excessive noise included music from the bars and customers gathering outside on the street.

The authority noted that Fyfe "was unable to point to any specific examples of public disorder". An inspection of Edisons in March found no problems with drunkenness or disorder.

Fyfe wanted the licences of both bars changed to make them close at 3am.

The alcohol authority adopted a 4am closing, the default time under new liquor laws in areas without local alcohol policies.

Wellington City Council wants to allow a 5am closing in the central city but its proposed alcohol policy is not yet in effect.

Yesterday, Edisons owner Nick Mills said he could not understand the residents' objections to the nearby nightlife. "I thought you lived in the city to enjoy the vibrancy, not to object to the noise."

The hearing cost thousands in legal fees, while some people seemed bent on opposing local bars, Mills said.

One person had told him a new venture, Boston on Blair, "would be closed down in six months".

"He told me, in front of everyone, not to get too cosy."

Dermot Murphy, from The Establishment, told the hearing the bar was operating for years before any complainants arrived. Staff cleaned up outside each night, and the objectors had been given cellphone numbers to call with any concerns.

A council spokesman said the number of complaints about inner-city bars had dipped in recent years, after a rise when the apartment boom started 10 to 15 years ago.

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Better noise-proofing standards had helped, though the Wakefield St apartments pre-dated these, he said. There was a long history of complaints from the complex.

"We've repeatedly sent people to take readings."

Between July 2010 and May this year the council received 23 complaints about noise at The Establishment, but it was not found to be excessive. Of the 23 complaints, 19 were from 282 Wakefield St.

Between April 2012 and May this year there were 17 noise complaints about Edisons - seven were from Wakefield St. Noise was never deemed to be excessive.

- The Dominion Post


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