After considering all submissions made on its draft Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) Ashburton District Council members have indicated they want to make some key changes to the policy.
Key changes Council is looking to make to the LAP are:
- A one-way door restriction (patrons can leave but not enter the premises) to apply to all tavern-style licensed premises in the Ashburton urban area only from 1:00am. The draft policy proposed a one-way door restriction from 1:00am for all premises throughout the district. Council decided this was likely to be unworkable for some rural premises and that street disorder issues were primarily a problem only in the Ashburton urban area. The one-way door restriction has been added to available discretionary conditions across the district which will give the District Licensing Committee the ability to impose a one-way door for particular premises.
- Closing time for tavern-style licensed premises has been pulled back to 2:00am, from the 3:00am close proposed in the draft LAP. Councillors agreed with the submission from the Medical Officer of Health that if there was not a district-wide one way door restriction then an earlier closing time should be in place. Council believes the 2:00am closing time is in the best interests of the wider community in terms of reducing alcohol harm in the community.
The policy is currently going through a legal review which may recommend further changes and the Council still has the opportunity to make changes when the policy comes back to them for adoption.
Councillor Alan Totty chaired the submissions deliberations and says he and the Council are comfortable with the policy decisions indicated.
"We have a responsibility to have a Local Alcohol Policy that supports the objects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act to provide for the safe and responsible sale and supply of alcohol and to minimise harm caused by alcohol," said Cr Totty.
Cr Totty says Council made changes to the policy in the knowledge these will not suit everyone.
"Some licensees may object to some parts of the policy, but this an example of the difficult decisions councillors sometimes need to make."
"The Council arrived at a policy we believe is in the best interests of our community as a whole," Totty added.
The provisional policy will be made publically available when the legal review has been completed and any matters raised through that review have been addressed.
Council community relations manager Gavin Thomas says he expects Council to be able to adopt a provisional policy on 20 February but this will depend on the legal review being completed and any issues raised through the review having been addressed.
Mr Thomas says the legislation is not clear about what information can be included in the policy and what can be included as a discretionary condition on a license and what can't.
"With this being new for everyone there are no legal precedents yet, so the legal review will be useful to provide some clarity around the use of discretionary conditions in particular," he said.
"We are confident the main policy matters such as closing times and one-way doors will come through the legal review intact," he said.
Individuals and organisations that made submissions on the draft Local Alcohol Policy will have the opportunity to appeal the provisional Local Alcohol Policy once it is notified by the Council. The Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority will consider all appeals and make decisions on the final policy.
Anyone who did not make a submission on the draft policy is not able to lodge an appeal.