Bars reject alcohol plan

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The hospitality industry is rejecting all of the proposed changes to the Local Alcohol Policy announced last week.

Among the changes to the policy announced by Nelson City Council were for restaurants to stop serving alcohol at 12 midnight, suburban taverns and bars – like the Turf  Hotel in Stoke – to stop serving alcohol at 1am and for the introduction of a one way door policy in the city’s nightclubs from 2am. Bars in the CBD will still be allowed to open until 3am under the proposal.

But Hospitality Association president Ron Taylor says after meeting with its members last Thursday, the group will “strongly fight” the proposed changes and says they won’t work.

“We’re not saying there aren’t issues out there, because there are. What we’re saying is the measures put in place are not the measures that are going to solve the issues. We feel it’s a backwards step and we’ve worked so hard to get where we are.”

Hospitality Association regional manager Jeanette Swift says the plan punishes business owners and the “vast majority” of those who drink responsibly.

“Let’s look where the harm really is and look at some measures to solve that. Don’t penalise the licenced premises.”

Ron says there are enough restrictions and penalties in place to punish bad operators and the majority of alcohol related harm is done outside of licenced premises.

He says Nelson is the country’s seventh largest tourist town and with more conferences and events coming to the city, Nelson needs to be a place where people can go out for a late meal or go for a drink after dinner without having it all shut up on them.

Restaurant operators say they are happy to cut their current licence from 3am to 2am, but 12 midnight is too early as they can still be serving food on occasion.

Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, councils can work with their local community to develop a Local Alcohol Policy. It can only contain policies concerning matters relating to the licensing of premises for the sale and supply of alcohol.

Councillor Pete Rainey says to prepare the draft policy, the council consulted with police, the medical officer of health and district licensing inspectors.

Police are keen to see the one way door policy implemented. Submissions on the proposal close September 16 and can be made at [email protected].