New liquor laws in place next month

@devlincolle Blackboards proclaiming two-for-one alcohol specials will be a thing of the past when new laws regulating the sale of alcohol come into effect next month.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 will be fully in place from December 18 and covers a range of issues such as trading hours, licence conditions, promotions and local policy.

Under the act, local authorities will be given the option to form Local Alcohol Policies (Laps), which can refine the laws in their region.

New district licensing committees from the Invercargill City Council, Gore District Council and Southland District Council would form a Southland-wide Lap.

Consultant William Watt, employed by the councils to compile a draft Lap, said one suggestion in the draft was a one-way door policy, which could prevent patrons from entering bars after a designated time. The trial could be introduced later next year.

Mr Watt said he consulted with focus groups that included alcohol sales businesses and dozens of community organistions.

The draft also included further restrictions on advertising of alcohol, he said.

Each council would put forward the draft policy for consideration at the December meetings, he said.

The draft would then be put out for public consultation.

Invercargill Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow said the Lap could be in place by early March.

In the interim the new laws and existing accord would apply.

Alcohol sellers in the region are annoyed the Lap will not be ready when the law is introduced and angry a one-way door policy was proposed.

Tillermans music lounge owner Tim Smellie said the one-way door policy had been proposed by the police to take people off the streets. It was worrying for late night venues like his, he said.

The venue was prepared for all the new laws, which he welcomed.

Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey strongly disagreed with having a one-way door policy. "It may work in busy metropolitan cities with lots of bars but it will not work in quiet provincial cities."

He said it was not based on logic or common sense.

Some of the other key provisions in the act would have an impact on trust businesses, particularly those around promotions. Bars would be able to advertise promotions of more than 50 per cent inside the premises but not outside.

Maximum trading hours for off-licences would also impact on the trust because no sales could be made after 11pm.

Winton Middle Pub owner and Hospitality New Zealand board member John McHugh said most bar owners were waiting to see what would come from the Lap policy.

He did not agree with maximum trading hours for off-licences. He said they would not work in rural communities, where not all people work 9am to 5pm.

The new laws had been poorly advertised and he would not be surprised if some rural pub owners did not know about them.

The Southland Times