Bars want council funds for security
Should bars in Victoria St get public money for security in the area?
Victoria St residents say it is "outrageous" that Hospitality New Zealand wants more than $300,000 of public money to help control patrons attracted to the bar-filled area.
In a submission to the city council's draft annual plan today, Brett Giddens will ask for $62,400 a year for five years - or $1200 a week - for extra security staff for the growing hospitality precinct.
Giddens, the co-owner of Revival and Tequila Mockingbird, will speak on behalf of the Canterbury Branch of Hospitality New Zealand (HNZ), which represents several licensed Victoria St premises.
In his written submission to the council, Giddens said extra security guards had already been patrolling Victoria St in a six-week trial.
The total requested from council - $312,000 - would keep the programme going for five years with an aim of reducing the potential for alcohol-related harm and disturbances in the area.
"We see this as a good opportunity for the council to support development and business in the precinct by enabling measures to be put in place. In turn this will help licensees remain good neighbours to central city residents," he said.
Long-term Beveridge St resident Dave Kelly said it was "absolutely outrageous" that bars represented by HNZ wanted council money to help pay extra security costs.
"These businesses are hugely profitable. It's a cost of them doing business," he said.
Kelly, who is secretary of the Victoria Neighbourhood Association (VNA), said residents were sick of party-goers' threatening behaviour and the vomit, litter and urine they often left behind on neighbourhood streets.
They were of the understanding that bars like Revival were temporary post-quake, but "it's looking less temporary as time goes on".
"It is positive that they are trying to find ways of limiting the impact, but it absolutely should not be paid for by ratepayers. [The bars] should clean up their own mess."
Inspector Peter Cooper, the Canterbury police deployment manager, said extra security staff could "only be a good thing".
"Our team leaders were aware of them [last weekend], but as to whether it changed the environment . . . it is way too early to comment," he said.
The "heavy" callout times for Victoria St were early evening Friday and Saturday and between 1am and 2am Saturday and Sunday.
"The migration between licensed premises is always of concern, because intoxicated people mingle with other intoxicated groups."
Gracefield Ave resident Marjorie Manthei, the membership co-ordinator for VNA, said the five-year period in HNZ's submission was worrying because the local alcohol policy (LAP) proposed by the last council would make the extra security cost redundant.
"The outgoing council had agreed that 1am was appropriate on Victoria St. We shouldn't have a situation where more security is needed. Even if we're a bit noisier up to 1am . . . that is just life in the central city," she said.
Kelly said he, too, was disappointed when the council stalled its provisional LAP and blamed "stand-over tactics" by licensed premises and supermarkets.
"[Victoria St] is a dumb place to have late-night bars in the first place. The problem would go away if they moved somewhere else," he said.
A council spokeswoman said it was waiting for the outcomes of LAP appeals.
"These appeals are scheduled to be heard in August, but we don't know when the decisions will be released," she said.
- The Press
How do you feel about the city's first anchor project, the Avon River Precinct?Related story: Vision of city by the water