Province alcohol rules eyed

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013

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Southland councils are considering introducing a province-wide alcohol policy to regulate the supply of alcohol within the region.

Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, territorial authorities can choose to implement a local alcohol policy to regulate maximum opening hours and locations of off-licence premises.

Southland District councillors discussed the issue at an activities performance audit committee meeting yesterday, where environment and community group manager Bruce Halligan said the new legislation gave the council three options: it could decide not to adopt a local policy, it could develop one for the Southland district, or it could work with the Invercargill City and Gore District councils to create a Southland-wide policy.

Though the three councils could develop their own policies, a joint policy would promote consistency in the region, he said.

"We haven't got significant issues in our community like some other parts of New Zealand has. I think the major thing is consistency."

A Southland-wide policy would not only be less confusing for patrons, but would also help organisations such as the Mataura Licensing Trust, which operated businesses in both the Gore and Southland districts, he said.

Southland District Council chief executive David Adamson agreed and said if policies were stricter in certain areas, patrons might move between districts to take advantage of later opening hours.

He acknowledged people were not likely to drive from Invercargill to Te Anau to continue drinking, but believed some would travel from the zone controlled by the Invercargill City Council to nearby Southland district areas, such as Wallacetown, if maximum hours there were less strict.

Committee member Stuart Baird questioned why communities coping with existing opening hours should be subject to reduced Southland-wide hours. Mr Halligan said there would be scope to investigate implementing different provisions for specific communities within the policy.

There would also be allowances for special events such as televised rugby matches that might fall outside maximum opening hours.

The Southland Liquor Liaison Group, consisting of police, Public Health South and council representatives, would discuss options and report back to the committee later in the year, he said.

Inspector Olaf Jensen said after the meeting that there could be benefits if the region worked together, but said police would discuss policy options with councils.

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- The Southland Times

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