Bar owners in Kaikoura have reached a compromise following requests from the Liquor Licensing Authority to shut all the pubs at 1.30am on Friday and Saturday nights to reduce trouble associated with this weekend's Seafest festival.
A meeting between licensees, police and liquor licensing inspector David Shovel was held yesterday morning to discuss the request.
The annual festival in Kaikoura has been associated with public disorder and drunkenness in recent years, mostly in the town at night after the festival has closed.
Speaking on behalf of Kaikoura's Hospitality NZ members, regional manager Jeanette Swift said the licence holders were happy to compromise on the request and close early on Saturday night, but would retain a business as usual approach for the Friday night. The compromise will see the bars impose a strict one-way door policy from 1am, or earlier as they see fit, and close the bars at 2am on Sunday morning.
Some of the law breaking comes from people not drinking in bars, but in their cars, on the beach or at accommodation premises before heading into West End to cause a disturbance.
Another issue last year was the lack of a police presence as the Rugby World Cup had police resources tied up in other areas. This year, however, police have said they will have a heavy presence starting at 9am on Saturday and working right through until the bars close. Extra police staff will be brought in from across the top of the South Island to ensure an obvious presence, both on the streets to enforce the liquor ban and at Seafest at Takahanga Domain.
The liquor ban is in force for much of the town, with clear signage indicating where the consumption of alcohol is prohibited. Sergeant Julian Lewis, of Kaikoura police, said police would be tackling the weekend party goers with a "firm but fair" approach. Anyone found in breach of the liquor ban would be asked to tip their drink out, he said, and those who refused would be arrested. A secure lock-up bus is being brought in to assist the police with dealing with those arrested, he said.
- The Marlborough Express