Booze policy will lead to job losses, bar warns

01:19, Jul 31 2013
Draft local alcohol policy hearing
CONCERNS: Economist Douglas Fairgray and Progressive Enterprises public affairs manager Kate Porter address the Christchurch City Council over its draft local alcohol policy.

A Christchurch bar manager has warned that he will have to cut jobs if the city council forces nightspots to close early.

The Monday Room general manager Jeremy Hanna said about 43 per cent of the business's weekly revenue was taken between 10pm and 3am.

It stood to lose a lot more than the 1am to 3am revenue if it was forced to close at 1am, as proposed by the council's draft local alcohol policy (LAP).

If the policy was adopted in its current form, the business would immediately restructure to ensure its long-term viability.

Hanna was addressing the council on the third day of a four-day hearing on the LAP.

He said seven fulltime-equivalents would be made redundant, live music would not be available six nights a week and daytime hours would be reviewed.


The LAP had other consequences as for some time The Monday Room's owner, who used to own Le Plonk and 205, had been looking to re-establish them but had put that on hold until there was certainty on the future of liquor licensing.

Hanna said the LAP was too broad and failed to address the underlying issues of binge drinking and preloading, which mainly occurred outside on-licence premises.

It appeared the LAP was a "Band-Aid approach to a broader issue", he said.

He submitted that all businesses within the four avenues should be allowed to stay open until 3am, the one-way door policy should be removed and a zone for even later licences be set up.

By allowing bars to stay open until 3am, it did not mean they all would, he said.

Hanna said that would help stagger the number of people leaving venues, which would help ease pressure on taxis and public transport.

Johnson backs 3am closing

An advocate of going without alcohol is concerned Christchurch's "vibrancy" will be in danger if the LAP is introduced.

Sam Johnson, a member of the Riccarton-Wigram Community Board, said he was speaking for himself, his family and friends when asking the council to consider its LAP carefully.

"I'm very worried for the vibrancy of the city," he said.

Johnson said it was not Christchurch's culture to go to bed at 2am.

He said the city needed a vibrant core where people could socialise and dance the night away and that would attract people from all over the place.

He wanted a 3am closing time in the central city and said the hours in suburban bars needed to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

James Stringer, who helped start Volstead in Riccarton, spoke alongside Johnson.

He said the 1am shutdown in areas outside the central business district was "too tight" as there needed to be a range of options for people.

The council needed to look at certain suburban areas, such as Riccarton, individually, he said.

Stringer disagreed with a one-way door policy as it could create a "hostile environment".

"It unjustly punishes the bar industry," he said.


Countdown opposes booze policy

Economist Douglas Fairgray earlier addressed the council in support of Progressive Enterprises, which owns Countdown.

The LAP includes a proposal to reduce off-licence hours to 9am until 9pm.

He said there were few incidents of young adults buying alcohol at supermarkets at night.

"We do not have sufficiently good evidence to support this policy," he said.

Progressive Enterprises public affairs manager Kate Porter said the LAP had the potential to affect 18,000 customer hours each year in Christchurch and 500,000 customer visits.

"Any further restrictions further to the national default hours will have a negative impact on hundreds of thousands of Christchurch customer visits, with no evidence to suggest that this would reduce harm related to the inappropriate or excessive use of alcohol."

She said across all age groups, 1.7 per cent of sales were beer or wine only, which showed that the vast majority of New Zealanders were buying alcohol as part of buying other groceries.

In its Christchurch stores, there were 356,390 customer visits on average each year between 7am and 9pm, and 157,170 after 9pm.

Porter said there were fewer than two beer or wine sales to young adults (aged 18 to 24) between 7am and 9pm.

In a typical supermarket, there were fewer than 15 Friday-Saturday beer and wine sales to young adults from 9pm to 11pm.

Data showed that between 9pm and 11pm, supermarkets accounted for 6 per cent of young adults' total spending on alcohol, while bottle stores accounted for 30 per cent and on-licences (restaurants, bars, clubs and taverns) accounted for 64 per cent.

"The available statistics indicate that supermarkets are not a significant destination for young adults to buy wine and beer over the weekend, and that the restrictive hours you propose will only inconvenience the majority of Cantabrians in the older age groups who we believe are not the target you are trying to reach," Porter said.

She said that from December, measures would be introduced in supermarkets to further regulate the sale of wine and beer.

These included limiting the display and promotion of beer and wine, more regulated advertising regimes and reduced licensed hours of 7am to 11pm.


- A closing time of 3am in the central-city entertainment precincts (excluding Victoria St) for taverns, bars, pubs, nightclubs and clubs, with a one-way door policy from 1am.

- A closing time of 1am elsewhere in the central city (including Victoria St) for taverns, bars, pubs, nightclubs and clubs, with a discretionary one-way door policy where appropriate.

- A closing time of 1am in suburban centres in the city for taverns, bars, pubs, nightclubs and clubs, with a discretionary one-way door policy where appropriate.

- Maximum trading hours for selling alcohol of 9am until 9pm for all off-licences in Christchurch.

- Restrictions on the location of new bottle stores and taverns to business zones.

- Maximum trading hours of 8am until 1am for restaurants and cafes throughout the city.

The Press