New rules 'may restrict liquor licences'

MARY WITSEY
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2012

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Proposed tough new liquor law changes could see fewer licensed premises operating in places like Southland.

That was the message delivered at the province's inaugural Hospitality New Zealand-police breakfast in Invercargill yesterday.

The meetings aim to foster positive relations and better communication between the two groups. Invited guest and retired Judge Bill Unwin said the new Alcohol Reform Bill would make it much harder to get a liquor licence.

"If I was a licensee right now I'd be shaking in my boots," Judge Unwin said.

While the bill had yet to be passed he said local authorities would be tasked with approving liquor licences.

"In awarding a new licence, local licensing committees will need to consider the future noise levels, possible nuisance and vandalism and the number of premises which already hold similar licences in the area. "In my view fewer new licences will be granted ... there will be fewer applications and the current licences will become more valuable."

The bill aimed to tighten up on liquor abuse and provide a new system for controlling alcohol sales and the local authority committee must consider the effects on the community of issuing new liquor licences.

"In other words is the neighbourhood going to be worse off?"

The bill comes up for its third and final reading in about six weeks, but Judge Unwin said it would take about 12 months before the changes came into effect and he suggested hoteliers renew their licences in that period.

"Before the whole process gets taken over by a local licensing committee who'll fix charges based on the costs of processing, rather like they do for resource management applications."

Judge Unwin, who served as the chairman of the Liquor Licensing Authority from 2001-2009 and presided in Invercargill on a number of occasions, congratulated the Southland branch of Hospitality NZ and police for co-ordinating the meeting. "There are some really practical advantages in having the various stakeholders talking with each other like they are today."

Invercargill police area tactical manager Inspector Olaf Jensen also addressed the group, which included about 100 hoteliers and cafe owners from across Southland, Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey, Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno, Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks and Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd.

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- The Southland Times

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