Bar owners bruised by tough new police stance

NEW BRIGHTON: Pierside Cafe owner Tony Brooks has laid a formal complaint with police
NEW BRIGHTON: Pierside Cafe owner Tony Brooks has laid a formal complaint with police

Tensions are mounting between bars and police over the enforcement of new alcohol laws.

Bar owners, including some from Christchurch, have contacted Hospitality New Zealand with concerns of "heavy handedness", but police say they are happy with how they are enforcing the new laws.

New Brighton Pierside Cafe owner Tony Brooks laid a formal complaint with police after his bar staff were allegedly subjected to threats of being shut down, despite passing their inspection, on Saturday, March 1.

CARGO BAR: Danny Valentine
CARGO BAR: Danny Valentine

Brooks said the bar manager had introduced himself to the attending senior sergeant and tried to shake his hand.

He was allegedly told, "This senior sergeant doesn't shake hands," Brooks said.

Brooks said the bar manager was then subjected to a "barrage of threats".

"The senior sergeant said he would be back every weekend and he only needed one reason to shut us down," Brooks said.

His staff were left in "genuine shock", he said.

The Cargo Bar was also visited on March 1.

Tight5 Hospitality's Danny Valentine, who oversees the Lincoln Rd premises, said staff were left with a bad impression.

"We had a really good relationship with them, but there appears to have been a change of guard," he said.

Valentine knew several city bars had voiced concerns about police "heavy handedness".

"If we stuff up absolutely we should get pulled up, but we have a pretty spotless record," he said.

Changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act came into force in December.

The changes include stricter rules to prevent bars letting in intoxicated patrons and new instant fines for offences including liquor ban violations and fake IDs.

Christchurch Police Alcohol Prevention leader Senior Sergeant Gordon Spite declined to discuss the Pierside complaint with The Press.

"We have a process to go through and that process does not include the media. If bars have a problem they should call me, not you," he said.

Spite said he was happy with how his team had been enforcing the new laws and there had been no other complaints made to police.

Hospitality New Zealand deputy chief executive Sara Tucker said the tensions were due to the interpretation over the new laws.

"There have been a lot of questions around how it is being policed, including from Christchurch - we are fielding questions every day," she said.

"This is a very new piece of law and there will be a period of adjustment and teething problems. Having said that, I would expect professional customer service approach from the police to our licensees and vice versa," she said.

The Press