Hard line on booze set to get tougher

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 26/01/2013

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Nelson's police chief says scrutiny of how alcohol is consumed in the region will only increase in the wake of a central city bar operator having his manager's certificate suspended for more than a month from Monday.

Paul Brydon, of Molly Maguires, has had his general manager's certificate suspended for 42 calendar days from January 28.

An amended order suspending the bar's on-licence for three days expired at 7am today.

Mr Brydon said yesterday that the impact of the suspension of the on-licence was greater than that of him temporarily losing his manager's certificate. It meant not only a loss of trade - staff had to take leave during that time, which triggered administration and employer costs.

"Seventy-two hours is a long time for any business in an industry that's struggling," he said.

It is not the first time Mr Brydon's bar has come to the attention of the authorities.

His certificate was suspended for three weeks and the on-licence frozen for 24 hours in October 2009.

On March 9 last year, both the licensee, Molly's On Bridge, operating as Molly Maguires, and Mr Brydon were again before the Liquor Licensing Authority over enforcement applications.

Nelson Bays police Area Commander Inspector Steve Greally said that for the past 12 months, the police focus on alcohol had been obvious. It was one of the five drivers of crime that police were determined to reduce, and they were happy with the results so far.

"Part of what we have been trying to do is not only target patrons with their behaviour, but licensees who are all making money from this business, and we hold them to account for compliance," Mr Greally said.

He said that unfortunately for Molly's, it had come to the attention of police "a lot" during the past year.

The latest suspension order follows a decision in December by the Liquor Licensing Authority, over a hearing in opposition to applications to renew the on-licence and general manager's certificate.

While Molly's had its on-licence suspended for three days from last Wednesday until today, and Mr Brydon's manager's certificate was suspended, the authority granted renewal of the on-licence for 15 months, effective from last September, and renewal of the general manager's certificate for the same period.

The authority noted in its decision that the licensee's operation of the premises since acquisition in 2007 had been "somewhat chequered".

The latest enforcement was triggered by incidents on April 21 and May 9 last year when police allege they found intoxicated people at Molly's. The authority said it was not satisfied that the law was breached in relation to the incident on May 9, so the allegation was not proved.

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Mr Greally said many bar operators in the region had improved their performance, which was good, but it was disappointing that some continued to break the rules.

He believed some operators were "out of their depth", and the consequences of poor management did not seem to mean a lot to them.

"We want the public to know the police will only be stepping up scrutiny of how alcohol is consumed in the Nelson Bays area.

"If people think it's tough now, it will continue. We are starting to see a reduction in violence as a result, so it's a no-brainer for us.

"It's disappointing to see Molly's has not got the message yet, but we're cognisant of the fact some licensees are doing a damn good job."

Mr Brydon said he would appoint temporary managers while his certificate was suspended.

"I just have to take this on the chin and move on, but it does leave a bit of a sour taste."

He felt he had been given a fair hearing, and respected the fact that the police had a job to do, but felt he was not alone among bar operators considered to be operating outside the rules.

He had taken steps to prevent similar incidents happening again by using experienced security staff and planning to do regular checks of the premises every five to 10 minutes.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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