Public submissions on Auckland City’s Draft Liquor Licensing Policy are now open, until 5pm on the 7th of October. This new policy aims to address various issues related to on and off-licence conditions, locations of licence premises, and the varying requirements of licence holders in different areas of the city.
Key points are:
- Base hours of 7am till 1am in the CBD and special “Entertainment Precincts”
- 7am till 11pm in the rest of the city and the Hauraki Gulf islands.
- Extended hours till 3am available in the CBD and EP’s upon first renewal, pending clean record, security staff and server training, and midnight extended hours outside those areas.
- 24 hour licences available with further clean record, CCTV installation, lock outs after 4am, and further host responsibility measures like free food after 3am.
So, it doesn’t seem totally unreasonable at first glance, but knowing the hard graft some licence holders have dealing the the Council as it is, it’s worrisome to me. Lets go into some more detail. The opening gambit of the policy document is:
Auckland City Council recognises that to be a vibrant, world-class city that is an attractive place both to visit and to live, it is important to have a lively central business district (CBD) and entertainment precincts with an array of restaurants, cafes, bars and entertainment venues. Responsible consumption of liquor outside of licensed venues also plays a part in the way residents and visitors relax and celebrate in Auckland city.
So while we want the city to be active and vibrant, we want it safe. Not so bad at all. But why must we do it at the expense of increasing the cost of compliance for many business owners? Why are we placing yet more restrictions on an already heavily restricted and much maligned industry?
Separate to the CBD, six Entertainment Precincts have been named. They are Ponsonby Road, Parnell Road, Mission Bay Newmarket, Kingsland Village and Mt Eden Village. These are areas that are considered
mixed-use commercial and residential areas with a lively hospitality trade both during the day and into the night
These areas would have the same restrictions as CBD venues, but wouldn’t be able to apply for the 24 hour licences.
To apply for the 3am licence, you must have held the base hours licence for 1 year, and then meet further requirements.
- Clean record
- Security staff (from 11pm till 1 hour after close of trade, 1 for up to 50 patrons, 2 for up to 100 and 4 for up to 150, etc)
- Server training (all servers after 1am must have NZQA accredited responsible server training credentials)
To apply for the 24 hour licence, as well as the above, the policy proposes:
- CCTV at all public entrances and exits clearly recording patrons from 11pm till 1 hour after close
- One way door from 4am (you can exit, but you can’t come back in)
- Extra host responsibility measures (free food from 3am till close, no more than 4 drinks may be purchased at one time)
Supermarkets, dairys and bottle shops selling liquor would be restricted to 10pm sales cut off. I am however hard pushed to think of many 24 hour off licences in the CBD. Foodtown Quay St is 1am cut off for example.
I’m cheating a little bit here as I’m still working my way through the full draft document, but some key points I agree with being made by HANZ include:
- How this will financially impact on businesses?
- How this will affect bar staff with regards to a loss of jobs if there is a drop in opening hours?
- Why are we doing this now with the Super City about to form and the Law Commission about to report back on reform of the Sale of Liquor Act?
- What is the problem they are trying to solve with this Policy and will these measures solve it?
- How will this affect the Rugby World Cup?
- Will the public still be able to enjoy access to neighbourhood bars and restaurants without having to travel to the city for a night out?
- How have the entertainment precincts been determined? Why are they so limited? What about other areas such as the top of Symonds St/Khyber Pass area, Grey Lynn, Pt Chevalier, Onehunga, Otahuhu, Panmure/Mt Wellington, St Heliers etc to name a few?
- 70% of alcohol consumed is off licensed premises. Evidence shows that 82 % of alcohol related offending is related to off licence consumption (Police National Alcohol Assessment April 2009).
- Driving drinkers out of the suburban bars at 11pm will either compel them to drink in unsupervised areas creating more alcohol related harm or to travel into the CBD which creates issues around migratory drinking and drink driving.
- The Sale of Liquor Act is already in place to promote safe alcohol consumption, dictate the host responsibilities of Licensees, and provide heavy penalties to those who do not comply
- There is no mention of hours for outdoor areas. The Auckland City Council Street Trading Policy refers to this policy for hours.
- How a ‘one-way door’ at 2am in Entertainment Precincts or 4am in the CBD would affect patronage?
- The cost of training all staff to NZQA qualified server standard, especially given the transient nature of bar staff
- Door security requirements will be great for security contracting firms but cost prohibitive for some venues. Although I believe most venues who require security are already doing it.
- How much it would cost businesses to provide ‘free food’ if they are open after 3am. What does ‘free food’ mean? Does a bowl of pretzels count? A cooked meal? A microwaved pie? A pizza?
I am definitely considering a submission on this matter, and anyone else with a view on Auckland nightlife would be well advised to do the same.