Booze ban plea for cup games

TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2011

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A bid to ban booze from Wellington's Rugby World Cup games has been submitted by a Wellington citizens' advocacy group.

The move has been labelled "nonsense" by one Wellington city councillor – but has high level support from other corners.

Spotless Facility Services has had to apply for a new liquor licence for Westpac Stadium because during the tournament it becomes the Wellington Regional Stadium, a new entity.

The City is Ours group is opposing the licence application, saying the tournament has been marketed as a family and educational event and should not be linked to alcohol.

It said promotion of liquor at the tournament would be unattractive to overseas visitors, security at the stadium was unsuitable for selling liquor, and drunken behaviour would put pressure on hospitals.

The group's opposition comes as drinking at sporting events has been criticised.

Submissions to stop a liquor licence for this year's Hawke's Bay Racing Spring Carnival told of aggression, fighting, vomiting and people snorting drugs through rolled-up banknotes at previous events.

Judith Aitken, who sits on the Capital & Coast District Health Board and Greater Wellington regional council, has thrown her weight behind The City is Ours.

"It's hard to imagine what intellectual and ethical machinations it requires to even contemplate another liquor licence in our city," she said.

"The burden on our emergency services is just the tip of an intolerable situation – the private damage even worse."

Doug Sellman, of the National Addiction Centre at Otago University, supported The City is Ours bid but doubted it would be entirely successful.

However, he thought the group's opposition might lead to greater restrictions on the licence, such as limiting how much liquor people could buy.

Wellington city councillor John Morrison, who sits on the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust, has labelled the opposition as "utter nonsense" and a waste of time. "It's sort of a reminder of prohibition."

The City is Ours targeted the tournament because it was a high-profile target to peddle an anti-drinking message, he said.

Rugby World Cup 2011 spokesman Mike Jaspers said the priority was to ensure all fans had a "safe and enjoyable experience".

Games would have extra police and security, no spirits would be sold in public areas, and volunteer liquor-control monitors would watch the crowds and queues.

Submissions to the Rugby World Cup Authority closed on Friday.

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