Bar owners prepared to save resort's 'crawls'

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012

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Queenstown bar crawl businesses are continuing to operate, thanks to a last-minute reprieve after threats of a total shutdown, which was to be effective from tomorrow.

The axe hung over the guided bar tours after Lakes Environmental, the regulatory arm of the Queenstown Lakes District Council, met with bar owners hosting the crawls and threatened to take them before the Liquor Licensing Authority if they did not shut their doors to the groups.

Lakes Environmental's interpretation of section 154A of the Sale of Liquor Act - that bar crawl businesses encouraged excessive drinking - acted as the blade of that axe.

However, mediation between owners of Queenstown's biggest bar crawl operators, Big Night Out and Kiwi Crawl, has resulted in a tentative "comply and monitor" agreement.

Lakes Environmental regulatory and corporate services manager Lee Webster yesterday said a meeting with the two operators took place late on Wednesday, and a meeting with another smaller operator would happen today.

"These operators have put forward a proposal to work with licensees to meet the requirements of 154a," he said.

"We think the proposal is reasonable. There are reservations there, but we're trying to work with them to try and find a solution for all parties, and need to monitor the ongoing activities."

Mr Webster said he was mindful that bar crawls were a popular introduction to Queenstown nightlife for many young tourists and the businesses were employers.

Big Night Out owner Ben Calder said he was happy to work on a solution that satisfied Lake Environmental's immediate concerns.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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