Liquor licence mixup forces MPs to BYO

Last updated 05:00 03/02/2014

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The drinks really were on MPs after a liquor licence mix-up saw them forced to ‘BYO' to Parliament's restaurant.

Bellamy's restaurant was unable to sell alcohol for the month of January and Pickwick's bar was forced to close after a paperwork blunder.

Parched politicians dining and entertaining guests were amused to find they had to bring their own wine to accompany meals when they returned to work last week.

And parliamentary staff almost had to start their month of sobriety a day early after a Febfast party was thrown in jeopardy.

It came after new sale-of-alcohol laws came into effect at the end of last year. Parliament used to be exempt but under the new legislation now needs a liquor licence. However, catering company Spotless Services failed to submit the application to Wellington City Council in time before the Christmas holidays.

So for the three days Parliament sat last week, MPs had to abstain - or supply their own.

A spokeswoman for Parliamentary Service, which manages the Beehive and Parliament Buildings, confirmed the mix-up.

"The paperwork did go in that last week of Christmas, but due to the holidays, and actual working days over the January period, that's where the delay was.

"As far as I know there was no issue with the licence and it was issued on Friday."

She said Pickwick's was due to open last week, after the holidays, and the dining rooms only open in sitting weeks. "It was really only that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week."

One MP said the Febfast party was almost called off but had a last-minute reprieve on Friday afternoon.

"They'd been without a licence for the whole month of January. Just before Christmas they did a massive sell-off of all the booze that used to [be sold] at Copperfields [cafe]. It was a bargain basement sale . . . and apparently it was because they had to sell it off.

"So, if you were dining upstairs they wouldn't have been able to sell you alcohol."

A spokesman for Wellington City Council could not confirm yesterday that the licence had been issued.

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- The Dominion Post

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