Earlier bar closing time 'unfair'

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:59 31/07/2014

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A 2am closing time for bars in Tasman would unfairly penalise the majority of responsible drinkers, a hotel owner says.

Richmond hotel owner Tony Crosbie was giving evidence to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority in Nelson yesterday.

The authority has reserved its decision after a three-day hearing over Hospitality New Zealand's appeal against Tasman District Council's provisional local alcohol policy.

The Tasman policy came into effect in December and requires on-licences to close by 2am.

A council survey showed only one of Tasman's 114 on-licences regularly opened beyond 3am, and another 20 were permitted to do so.

Hospitality NZ said more on-licence operators stayed open later than they had reported to the council.

Crosbie, an executive member of HNZI, employs 40 staff in the Tasman area in his businesses, which include Richmond's Star and Garter bar, and the Post Office Hotel and Motty Malone's in Motueka.

He believed an earlier closing time would unfairly penalise the majority of customers who were responsible drinkers.

"I consider that regulations should be proportionate to the risk of harm."

Crosbie said licensed premises were safe environments where staff were trained to help minimise harm by providing food and water toward the end of the night.

He said if patrons were forced to leave before they were ready, they would have difficulty finding transport and be likely to gravitate toward house or street parties.

"Does the council really think people will just go home and go to bed?"

He said the behaviour which needed to be targeted by the council's alcohol policy was pre-loading, side-loading and post-loading, when patrons drank extra alcohol outside the venue by hiding it in their cars or consuming large quantities before their arrival.

Although only the Star and Garter was allowed to be open later than 2am, due to a long-standing arrangement with Motueka police which restricts opening hours in that area, Crosbie estimated that his revenue could be affected by up to $75,000 if the local alcohol policy remained in place.

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- The Nelson Mail

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