Rural publicans hit out

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 09:18 27/05/2014

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Alcohol retailers in rural parts of Marlborough will suffer if a new draft alcohol policy goes ahead, says the owner of a Canvastown pub.

Trout Hotel owner Raymond Cresswell was one of 19 people who made spoken submissions to the council on the draft local alcohol policy yesterday.

The submissions were heard by the District Licensing Committee, chaired by councillor Graeme Barsanti, at council chambers.

Cresswell asked the committee to think about the whole region before making a decision on the final draft policy.

Reducing the hours for off-licences from 10pm to 9pm would hit rural towns hard, he said.

"A 9pm close would be ludicrous, not just for Canvastown, but for any rural operator."

Woodbourne Tavern and Motels manager Stacey Ingpen agreed.

The tavern was the only off-licence in Renwick open after 7pm, she said.

"We have many customers that will call in for a couple of beers after work between 9pm and 11pm and then make a responsible choice to take a rigger or a six-pack home rather than risk drinking and driving."

Reducing the on-licence hours from 3am to 2am would also see Renwick residents losing out.

Live music and entertainment at the pub finished before 2am, allowing time for customers to get a ride in a courtesy van before closing time at 3am.

If the hours were reduced, customers would be forced to leave earlier to ensure a ride home, she said.

Tim Donaldson, a representative of Foodstuffs South Island Ltd, which supplies to Pak'n Save, New World and Four Square supermarkets, said customers would lose out.

In Marlborough, the "vast majority" of alcohol sales happened between 11am and 7pm. Purchases at supermarkets after 9pm accounted for only 1.46 per cent of total alcohol sales, he said.

In a written submission, Donaldson said customers purchased beer and wine as part of their normal weekly shop.

"Nowadays we must accommodate shift workers, tag-teaming parents, rural work schedules, and busier and busier lifestyles.

"We don't believe there is any evidence that would link the hours of trading in supermarkets with excessive consumption of alcohol."

But Marlborough police argued alcohol was responsible for higher levels of antisocial offending at the weekend.

Senior Sergeant Peter Payne, of Blenheim, said seven people were arrested for disorderly behaviour between 1am and 3.30am on Sunday morning. All of them were "grossly intoxicated", he said.

Since July 1 last year, 200 people had been assaulted in a public place in Marlborough. Of those, 136 were in Blenheim, a 6 per cent increase compared with the previous year ending in June, he said.

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Hospitality New Zealand regional manager Jeanette Swift said the majority of alcohol-related ambulance callouts were to homes.

Pre-loading, side-loading and post-loading of cheap, readily available alcohol at home, in cars or in public places was the real challenge and should be the focus of the policy, Swift said.

"By reducing the hours of licensed premises, you could increase the levels of alcohol harm."

Council staff member Mike Porter said the committee would consider the submissions and await the results of appeals by the Tasman District Council and Waimakariri District Council in August. A final draft would be put out for further consultation with those who made a submission on the draft policy allowed to appeal any provisional policy.

A policy was expected to be finalised near the end of the year.

PROPOSED CHANGE

New hours for alcohol sales under the proposed draft alcohol policy:

Off-licences, including liquor stores and supermarkets – 7am to 9pm. Restaurants and cafes – 8am to midnight. Bars, pubs and night-clubs – 8am to 2am.

No single bottle sales of beer or ready-to-drink (RTDs) beverages.

Under the current Marlborough District Council Liquor Licensing Policy, liquor stores and supermarkets can sell alcohol between 7am and 11pm daily.

Restaurants and cafes can sell alcohol between 7am and 1am while bars and pubs can sell alcohol until 3am.

- The Marlborough Express

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