Trading hours, bottle shops and one-way door conditions are key parts of a draft local alcohol policy to be released for public consultation by Matamata-Piako District Council next week.
Changes in the sale and supply of alcohol regulations allow councils to develop their own policies relating to sale, supply and consumption.
At a previous council workshop, stakeholders, including the police and district health board, said ensuring safety and reducing alcohol-related harm in the community were high priorities.
"An underlying culture of pre and side-loading and binge drinking is acknowledged by many stakeholders as the cause of much of the alcohol-related harm," a staff report tabled at Wednesday's council meeting said.
Options include shorter maximum trading hours than set out in the act for on and off-licences; one-way door restrictions (lockout when leaving licensed premises); and restrictions on the location of bottle stores.
In a recent survey of community views, 58 per cent of people thought alcohol was a problem in Matamata-Piako and many commented on the intimidating behaviour, assaults and violence caused by those who had been drinking.
But there was also feedback that local bars contributed to a sense of community and provided a good opportunity for socialising.
At community focus group meetings members of the hospitality sector were concerned they would be disadvantaged by more restrictive trading hours and enforced one-way door restrictions.
However, the report said the police, medical officer of health and licensing inspectors were firm that the policy needed to be "clear and consistent, in particular by providing a strong signal about the licensing environment sought for the district".
An application for a bottle shop in Te Aroha, which attracted a petition bearing 1500 signatures in opposition, was recently granted - using current legislation - by the National Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority.
A similar approach, relating to the Mobil Service Station site in Morrinsville, is also scheduled to go to hearing on a date yet to be set by the authority.
The policy is open to public comment until November 18, with hearings on December 5. It could be implemented by the end of June at the earliest.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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