Early closing 'unfair' to patrons - publican

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 08:47 05/08/2014
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The owner of the Star and Garter Tavern in Richmond says an incident at the weekend that left a woman with a serious eye injury would not sway his view on later closing times for bars in Tasman district.

Tony Crosbie said what happened backed his argument for later opening hours.

The woman injured by a shard of flying glass was yesterday in a stable condition in Nelson Hospital after surgery on Sunday.

She was in the tavern when a group left the bar in the early hours of Sunday morning. Shortly after one of them threw a glass object back into the tavern's smoking area, police said. The glass shattered and a shard lodged into the eye of the woman patron who was seated in the area.

A taxi driver said in a Facebook post on the Nelson Mail site that he was parked across the road from the Star and Garter about 3am on Sunday when he saw a "group of angry drunk guys" outside the venue hassling a group inside.

He said one of the group outside threw with force a bottle or a glass at the group inside.

Police said they had spoken to a taxi driver, but could not confirm if it was the same one.

Crosbie said what happened was triggered from outside the pub.

"Someone threw a bottle from outside. We do all we can to adhere to the liquor licence requirements.

"The woman was in the pub, the guys were outside and that's what happened when they left, not thinking the girl would be hit in the face," Crosbie said.

Hospitality New Zealand has appealed the Tasman District Council provisional local alcohol policy which came into effect in December and requires on-licences to close by 2am.

At an appeal hearing last month against Tasman District Council's provisional local alcohol policy, Crosbie told the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority that a 2am closing time for bars in Tasman would unfairly penalise the majority of responsible drinkers.

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

Hospitality NZ said at the hearing 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.

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

Crosbie said at the hearing that 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.

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.

Crosbie told the hearing he estimated that his revenue could be affected by up to $75,000 if the local alcohol policy remained in place.

He said yesterday the business needed the extra hour.

- The Nelson Mail

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