Supermarkets have dropped their appeal against Tasman's planned alcohol policy, leaving the Hospitality Association as the sole objector.
The supermarkets' move was announced at the start of an appeal on Monday against the Tasman District Council's provisional local alcohol policy that sets maximum trading hours, among other licensing rules.
Supermarkets have joined forces to appeal against local body alcohol policies nationwide, largely because of proposed tighter trading hours.
In Marlborough, the Liquor Licensing Authority had been holding off on discussing submissions on the proposed alcohol policy, preferring to wait for the outcome of high court appeals against the Tasman and Waimakariri.
Tasman's policy set a 10pm closing time for off-licences that was initially appealed by Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs South Island, and retailers The Mill Retail Holdings and Independent Liquor (NZ).
Group spokesman, Foodstuffs' Tim Donaldson declined to comment yesterday on the reasons for the withdrawal.
Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the news about the supermarkets and off-licence retailers was "very pleasing to hear". He said now that the case had gone to court, the council was keen to let the judicial process play out.
The Hospitality Association was left as the sole appellent at the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority hearing in the Nelson District Court on Monday. The association opposes Tasman's 2am closing time for on-licences.
Under alcohol reforms in 2012, maximum trading hours of 8am to 4am apply across the country unless they are altered by a Local Alcohol Policy (LAP).
Tasman's 2am closure came into effect in December last year. The Liquor Licensing Authority's Judge John Hole said the crux of the matter to be decided in court was whether licensed premises in Tasman District could close at 3am or 2am.
The council's environmental health co-ordinator and chief licensing inspector, Graham Caradus, told the court the reduction of alcohol-based harm in the community was a "reasonable long-term expectation" if it was made less available. "The issue is that alcohol-related harm does occur in Tasman and the council's Local Alcohol Policy seeks to minimise that harm."
He said most Tasman businesses reported that trading seldom occurred to the full extent permitted, giving a range of examples which showed businesses commonly closed before 11pm on weeknights and before 1am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
- The Marlborough Express
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