One-way door plan for debate

Punters hoping to have a big night on the town will have to choose their destination carefully as local councils consider a plan to implement a one-way-door policy trial.

A draft Local Alcohol Policy has been prepared by the the south's three local councils and if they adopt the recommendations at their meetings this week, it will be put out for public consultation.

It is recommended councils adopt the draft policy before it goes out for public consultation and a committee is established, made up of four councillors from each council.

The report, which will be presented at today's Invercargill City Council meeting, says a trial was chosen because of strong views and arguments both for and against the one-way-door policy, which would restrict access to bars after 1am.

If adopted, the trial would take place from October, and include Invercargill, Gore and Te Anau.

It would include all on-licence premises but would take Te Anau premises into account only from October to March.

Bars and hotels would still have to be shut by 3am in the Invercargill CBD and 1am for premises outside the CBD.

It also proposes that off-licence premises be shut by 10pm, one hour earlier than currently.

Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey said the trust still opposed the one-way-door policy.

The trust had attended a meeting with other industry representatives before the Local Alcohol Policy was established but had not heard from the councils about it since, he said. He had not seen the document and needed time to comment further.

Mataura Licensing Trust general manager John Wyeth was also yet to read the document but said he did not agree with the trial, despite conceding it was a compromise.

"Personally, I am not in favour of the one-way-door policy. I think they are useless."

While he was not opposed to closing off-licence premises at 10pm, he said it would have a bigger impact on rural areas because in summer some rural contractors did not finish until 10pm.

However, police are welcoming the draft policy.

Southland area manager prevention Inspector Olaf Jensen said police supported the current document and welcomed any changes that would reduce alcohol-related harm. "Anything that is another avenue to prevent alcohol harm is worthwhile."

When the alcohol accord was put in place and made bars close at 3am in Invercargill, it had made "some really good gains to date".

He said the latest policy would support the gains already made.

"I think it's a good policy to start with, [but] there's always room for improvement."

If all three councils adopt the policy, submissions will be open until March 24.

The Southland Times