Draft plan to close liquor stores at 9pm

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 11:07 26/02/2014

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Supermarkets and liquor stores in Marlborough may have to stop selling booze at 9pm under a new draft local alcohol policy.

Under the current Marlborough District Council Liquor Licensing Policy, off-licences, including liquor stores and supermarkets, can sell alcohol between 7am and 11pm every day.

Under the new draft policy, off-licenses would be able to sell alcohol from 7am to 9pm.

Marlborough District Council licensing inspector Karen Winter said the District Licensing Committee chose the hours and conditions after information was gathered about the harm caused by alcohol in Marlborough, including a survey of Marlborough residents and an independent report by InToto Projects. Stakeholder groups, including police, Hospitality NZ, schools, emergency services and ACC were also consulted.

The new policy would reduce the hours liquor was sold in central Blenheim supermarkets and liquor stores, which were open to 10pm on Friday and Saturday.

Grove Rd Super Liquor manager Paula Page said the liquor store closed between 9pm and 10pm, depending on how busy it was.

Closing at 9pm wouldn't effect sales too much, she said. "I don't think it will impact [on] us, as long as supermarkets have to do it too."

The draft policy would also impose a 2am closing time on bars and pubs, an hour earlier than the current policy.

Fairweathers Bar owner Warren Croft said closing at 2am wouldn't affect his business.

People would still spend the same amount of money over a shorter period of time, but it would reduce the cost of overheads, he said.

Unlike a proposed 1am one-way door policy, no bar would be disadvantaged, he said.

Senior Sergeant Peter Payne, of Blenheim, said policing central Blenheim between 1am to 4am was a huge drain on police resources.

Closing bars an hour earlier would free up police officers, he said.

"It will make a huge difference to the safety of people in town at that time. It's an hour less for people to get intoxicated."

Under a proposed timeline for consultation, the public can make submissions on the policy between March 6 and May 2.

Ms Winter said the policy had not been debated by council staff and the hours and other conditions might change before the policy was put out for public consultation.

HARD LUCK FOR HARD LIQUOR

There's more beer and cider available, but spirits appear to be waning in popularity.

Statistics New Zealand figures released this morning show the availability of alcoholic drinks rose by about 8.9 million litres last year.

Beer and wine were responsible for the rise, with non-grape table wine - a class that includes cider - rising by more than 5.2 million litres.

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There was about 8.9 million litres more beer available, with medium-strength beers rising most strongly.

But for those into hard liquor, there are about 15 million litres less spirits on shop shelves.

Overall, there were 466 million litres of alcoholic beverages available last year, still shy of the record high of 486 million litres in 2008.

Overall, the quantity of pure alcohol available per person was steady at about 9.2 litres per person.

The statistics measure available drinks not actual consumption.

 

- The Marlborough Express

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