New fees a big cost for some premises

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 11:29 25/04/2014
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New liquor licensing fees introduced in December could cost Marlborough on and off-licence premises an extra $4700 to renew and maintain their liquor licence for three years.

The Ministry of Justice introduced the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Regulations 2013 and the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Order 2013 last year.

Liquor Licensing Committee chair John Leggett said the new fee system was a result of the passing of the new acts, which was aimed at reducing harm from alcohol.

"As I understand it, one of the driving forces behind the change is the reference to the on and off-licences themselves . . . making sure the industry paid for the cost rather than the ratepayers."

The fees depend on which of five risk categories, ranging from very low to very high, a premises falls into, and each has an application fee and an annual fee.

For premises deemed to be low risk, such as cellar doors, BYO restaurants and cinemas, the fees for three years would total $851. For those deemed to be high risk, such as liquor stores, supermarkets, bars and night clubs, the fees for three years would total $5520.

The previous cost was a flat fee of $793.24.

Leggett said the new fees were set by the Government, not by Marlborough District Council.

However, the council had room to be slightly flexible with the fees in certain circumstances, he said.

The hike in fees has drawn a mixed reaction from Marlborough businesses, with at least one not aware about the new fees.

Leggett said he was "really surprised" people did not know about the new fees because there was publicity about them when they came into effect last year.

One Blenheim bar owner said he was aware of the new fees and the focus of the new liquor licensing laws, but the higher fees were not so great.

"I know what they are trying to do with the new laws . . . [but] anything that is a higher cost is not great for business and the timing is not ideal heading into winter.

"We just have to grin and bear it . . . we are not happy. It's just another cost."

A Giesen Estate Wines spokesman said they renewed their liquor licence to their cellar door at the end of last year and their fees had not increased as much as bars and clubs.

"There is not much of a change for us, but there will be for the high-risk places."

Fees for special alcohol licences had also changed. It used to cost a flat fee of $64.40 for a special licence in Marlborough.

For a large event with more than 400 people it would now cost $575, a medium event with between 100 and 400 people would cost $207 and a small event with less than 100 people would cost $63.25.

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- The Marlborough Express

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