Timaru's hospitality industry is preparing for the most significant changes to the liquor laws in 14 years.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 will allow the Timaru District Council to enforce a local alcohol policy from December 18, with the drafting of the policy under way.
"It's the biggest change we've seen since alcohol was allowed to be sold in supermarkets and the age limit changed to 18," the president of the South Canterbury Hospitality Association, Claire Edginton, said.
The association held its annual meeting on Tuesday, and discussions centred around the proposed policy points.
A one-way door policy, being a set time after which patrons cannot enter a premises, even though it is open for business, did not draw favour from the association.
The idea is to have fewer people wandering between pubs in the early hours, but Mrs Edginton is convinced it wouldn't change troublesome behaviour.
"Everybody would still be closing at the same time, and you would have people spilling on to the streets then. They would all be trying to get taxis at the same time, and that's often when people get cross.
"Licensees intuitively use a one-way door policy anyway by refusing under-agers and intoxicated people. I think we have the ability to be self-monitoring without making it policy."
A council survey showed a one-way door policy was favoured by the community, but Mrs Edginton questioned if people understood what the policy entailed.
"We discussed the possibility of some premises initiating their own one-way door policy as a trial so they are able to put forward . . . what works best."
Targeting licensed premises would not address the real problem of excessive drinking.
"Only 25 per cent of alcohol is consumed on licensed premises. Most of the issues around excessive consumption occur from cheap supermarket purchases, but when they come to town we are left to deal with pre-loading, intoxication and its associated problems.
"If the Government is serious about making a difference, they need to look at purchasing age, being drunk in a public place, and minimum prices.
"Instead the buck has been passed on to local bodies, leaving them with little teeth."
Another concern for the industry is who will pay for the implementation of the new policies.
In terms of policy-making, Mrs Edginton appreciates the council "are taking a good balanced approach, so far".
"We've found the council very sensible - they realise that Timaru needs hospitality. It gives the city vibrancy and attracts tourists."
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