Liquor law changes which would have closed Auckland suburban bars before midnight will be scrapped after receiving a hostile reception from the hospitality industry.
Auckland City mayor John Banks and Aaron Bhatnagar, the councillor steering the changes through the council, decided at the weekend to abandon the changes.
The Mayor, who last month voted for the draft liquor law changes, said he had never seen such a violent reaction to a policy issue “and I have put an end to it”.
Mr Bhatnagar blamed the “fatally flawed” policy on council officers.
Excellent, a win for the people for a change! The backlash from both the hospo industry and the public was quick and scathing, awesome to see authorities backing down so quickly.
You know, one of my biggest concerns wasn’t actually related to the CBD changes. I actually objected strongly to the suburban lockdown. For one, it would have forced historic venues like the Kings Arms (which has been a tavern and venue since 1880) into shutting down at 11pm, with a maximum of 12pm after a year. For another, it would have quashed development of neighbourhood venues.
A number of areas were designated as Entertainment Precincts. Kingsland is one such example. It’s an area that is a mix of historic housing, newer apartments, and a nice stretch of cafes, restaurants and a few bars. This area has developed into a vibrant community with some generally well behaved nightlife. Would this area have developed in this manner when forced to close at 11pm? Small restaurants and bars in neighbourhoods like this are not places that want to stay open till 3am necessarily, but midnight to 1am on occasion.
Forcing suburban venues into early closing would have destroyed any chance of further cosy community precincts developing, and that would be a tragedy.