Bars want council help and money

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 12:00 09/08/2014

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Bar owners says the hospitality scene in Palmerston North is struggling and are urging council to cut the red tape and help them out.

A group of owners have joined forces in at attempt to keep the drinks flowing at the city's pubs.

They want to turn the Regent Arcade into a hospitality destination but constant roadblocks by Palmerston North City Council have been making it difficult, they say.

Peter Savage, owner of The Fish, has joined forces with The Celtic Inn owner Neil McIntosh and Bubbles owner Joshua Roberts to come up with a plan to take to the council asking for support.

Hospitality has been a tough industry to be in for the last few years, McIntosh said.

"It's a sad state around town with bars closing; we don't seem to be attracting the people out to fill the bars up.

"The city as a whole needs help."

The Celtic Inn manager Scott McIntosh said this time of year the nightlife is traditionally quiet due to weather, but it has been particularly grim this year.

Hospitality New Zealand regional manager Chris Hince said the industry has been in a nationwide struggle the last two years.

He said it was worrying hearing that an establishment such as The Celtic, which has been around for more than 20 years, is struggling.

He said the industry needed to redirect its focus and offer an experience rather than just a beer and a meal.

The group will be asking for support as well as some funding from council, Savage said.

"At the moment it's quite restrictive, we have to be totally contained in a certain area outside our bars, where we're hoping that they will allow us to extend it to allow people to travel between the two bars.

"We need the authorities to be co-operative and work with us."

He said they have never tried to secure an entire liquor license for the alleyway because "we know they wouldn't allow it".

They plan to present the council with a proposal within the next month to turn the entire alleyway into an outdoor area where people can drink, Savage said.

Roberts said the alleyway would be similar to what is typically seen in Paris with fairy lights hanging between the buildings.

Palmerston North City councillor Aleisha Rutherford said she was supportive of what they are planning.

"There is some funding available. We're not making any commitment at this stage but it is definitely something we'd like to talk further about."

Council policy planner Jennifer Esterman said representatives of the hospitality businesses were invited to participate in Placemaking Broadway activities, as were others in the Broadway area, and she encouraged them to do so.

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- Manawatu Standard

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