Song and dance made over bar's licence

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 08/01/2013

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A Palmerston North karaoke bar owner is furious as the money he has put into his new business goes down the toilet because he cannot get a liquor licence.

The Rockz Bar, which has taken over a long-vacant space on the corner of Rangitikei and Cuba streets, is now fully furnished with pool tables, a wood-fire pizza oven and a bar.

But the furnishings are gathering dust, the jukebox sits idle and the signs outside are being vandalised.

Palmerston North police and a member of the public are opposing the karaoke-themed bar's application for liquor licence, which will now be decided at a public hearing on an as-yet-unconfirmed date.

Owner and Palmerston North man Eric Southee said he was being financially crippled by the stance of the police, in particular.

"I'm getting a raw deal. I've done everything the Liquor Licensing Authority and the police have asked of me and at this stage I still don't have a date when I can open. There's me and six other staff that I hired who have been in limbo since the end of November."

Mr Southee said police were opposing the licence as the area had a history of fighting brought about by the other bars on the street.

"They are condemning me for their problem and for the problems that other bars have had," he said.

"The other places in the area have had serious issues and there have been serious assaults over a number of years, but the police allow their licences to be renewed every year."

With Malbas across the road closed over the holiday period, he had been expecting to be reaping the benefits of an uncongested market.

"The funny thing is that without other bars in the street open this would be a golden opportunity to let them [the police] see what it would be like - whether this bar would cause trouble."

Mr Southee also owned the Rockz Bar when it was on Main St by Golden Takeaways six years ago. "My history as a bar owner should have been enough to convince them."

Now he was also having to deal with vandalism that had scratched away the letter ‘l' from his ‘Free Pool' signs. "It's just dispiriting really."

Sergeant Glenn Ryan said the city council had received objections from the public to the liquor licence being issued and he also shared the public's concerns.

It was nothing to do with the nature of the bar or who was running it, but rather the area. "This is an area where we have had significant alcohol-related issues over a period of time. The more outlets there are, the more it fuels the fire."

Mr Ryan did not think the "test it out and see what happens" argument proposed by Mr Southee was legitimate.

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- Manawatu Standard

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