Councillors vote against North Dunedin liquor ban

Dunedin city councillors have voted not to impose a liquor ban in North Dunedin, while heaping praise on the process that led to the decision.

The move came at a full Dunedin City Council meeting yesterday, as councillors voted unanimously to maintain the central city liquor ban while granting students in North Dunedin a reprieve.

In early 2012, after multiple disorder and safety issues concerning student street parties, including the Hyde St keg party, the council consulted publicly on a proposal to extend the central city liquor ban to North Dunedin.

After hearing submissions, including those from students opposed to a ban, the liquor bylaw hearings subcommittee met interested parties for further discussions.

Last week, it recommended the council instead concentrate on the ''collaborative approach being developed by key stakeholders'' to address alcohol-related issues in North Dunedin and the city.

Councillors yesterday endorsed the recommendation, while allowing further consideration of extending the central city liquor ban to include neighbouring streets.

That was designed to take into account the displacement of drinking in public places to nearby areas outside the liquor ban area.

Cr Colin Weatherall, chairman of the subcommittee considering the liquor ban, yesterday said co-operation with key parties had been ''immense''.

That included the university, the Otago University and Otago Polytechnic students' associations, police and Public Health South, who all participated in meetings with the council, chaired by Cr Kate Wilson.

A staff report to yesterday's meeting said there was now ''growing momentum'' to address problems with excessive alcohol consumption in North Dunedin and across the city, in a collaborative way.

Discussions were turning to strategies that could reduce alcohol-related harm across the city, the report said.

Cr Weatherall told yesterday's meeting the city might still face ''the odd fire or challenge'', but the co-operative approach was something the city could be proud of.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull agreed, saying the co-operation had forged new partnerships and led to a ''very positive result''.

The staff report noted alcohol problems in North Dunedin tended to be isolated to the beginning of the year and irregular times through the year.

Changes to be introduced through the Local Government (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Act were also likely to make it difficult to justify an extension, the report said.

Under the amendments, alcohol control bylaws would have to be justified by crime data, but police data showed alcohol-related offending was declining in the area that was to be covered by the North Dunedin liquor ban.

''The available information does not support the introduction of a liquor restriction under the new regime.'' the report said.