There may be very good reason why a judge suggested that customers should be prevented from buying single bottles of beer or ready-to-drink (RTD) liquor at off-licence outlets.
Those reasons are not clear in Marlborough and have not been explained in the draft policy proposed by the District Licensing Authority that is part of the Marlborough District Council.
Perhaps in a larger centre, a person might buy a bottle of beer at a licenced dairy in the suburbs to drink on their way into town for the night. Perhaps this results in these people causing problems on their journey.
That type of scenario has not been shared with the people who made submissions and comments this week on the draft policy. Many of them see it as the inverse - that being able to buy one bottle of beer would be preferable to having to buy a six-pack, or a 12-pack, or a slab of 24 or 30 bottles, and setting out to drink it.
Does buying two bottles get around the suggested policy rule, or do the bottles have to be in a package? If that is the case, the rule would discriminate against the growing number of craft beers lining the shelves of supermarkets and bottle stores - beer that tends to be bought by discerning drinkers who prefer to savour the beer than suck it down.
It appears the draft policy for Marlborough is a copy of some form of template provided by the Alcohol Regulations and Licensing Authority and police. The single-bottle idea sits among proposals that would require off-licences to stop selling at 9pm and bars to close at 2pm.
Those ideas might reduce some booze-fuelled offending, but it is not clear how. Logic suggests that drinkers will simply buy their liquor at different times and police will still be cleaning up the mess.
What might be more effective is for police to publish results of their last-drinks surveys, showing the bars where the problems are created. A publican concerned about being named would be very reluctant to let in anyone pre-loaded, and less likely to let patrons get to the point they will cause problems when they leave.
Just a thought.
- The Marlborough Express