Central's alcohol policy slammed

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 12/04/2014

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Health professionals have slammed Central Otago's draft Local Alcohol Policy as misleading, unbalanced, lacking in detail, and misses the opportunity to change a hazardous drinking culture.

The Central Otago District Council received 20 submissions to its draft policy and heard several submissions on Wednesday.

Southern District Health Board chief medical officer Dr Derek Bell said the policy needed "a lot of work".

He was "deeply concerned" at the quality of an anonymous in-house research report used to inform deliberations on the draft policy, which contained inaccuracies, gaps, misinformation, irrelevancies and insupportable conclusions.

The draft policy had largely ignored a SDHB report provided to the council about alcohol-related harm in the southern region, which included a survey of health professionals throughout the district, he said.

"The important findings from your own health professionals are not presented. Here is a public health authority seemingly actively ignoring its own health providers who provided information specifically to help inform you."

The report was heavily skewed toward the view that there was no alcohol-related harm in Central Otago and that no restrictions on alcohol availability were required, he said.

Councillor Malcolm Topliss said the draft policy on the table was not what he wanted to see for the region. "There have been three or four submissions that have led me to believe we have not gone far enough. Clearly we can do better."

Chairman Neil Gillespie said the policy was far bigger than first thought.

"We didn't envisage it being this complex."

The council recommended staff report back to it on the submissions.

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