The Dunedin City Council will consult the public on a
tougher approach to alcohol in the city, despite a fresh
warning it could face legal challenges from the industry.
Councillors at yesterday's full council meeting voted to
release the draft policy for six weeks of public
consultation, beginning on September 1, followed by a public
That was despite a warning from Cr David Benson-Pope, who
supported the move but believed supermarkets and other large
off-licence retailers could mount a legal challenge.
Other parts of the country had already faced ''expensive
litigation'' as a result of the move towards new local
alcohol policies, he said.
And, given the profits involved, councillors could be sure
lawyers would be ''extensively employed'' by supermarkets and
other large retailers, he warned.
The draft policy suggested closing bars at 3am and a one-way
door policy from 1am to prevent early-morning migrations
Bars' outdoor seating areas would also be cleared of drinkers
as early as 11pm, and bar staff would be banned from selling
shots after midnight, under the draft policy.
Supermarkets and bottle stores would face some new
restrictions, including having to stop selling alcohol an
hour earlier, at 10pm.
They would also be banned from selling single units of RTDs,
cider or beer - except boutique brands - altogether.
Councillors signed off the draft document for public
consultation yesterday, but not before council alcohol
licensing officer Kevin Mechen stressed the importance of
hearing from the community.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull agreed, saying he wanted the policy
to be an ''enabler'' for a vibrant city.
However, he questioned why evidence was presented in support
of earlier closing times for bars, but not for the
''potential harm'' caused by off-licence closing hours.
It had been suggested, ''rightly or wrongly'', that the harm
caused by off-licence sales was worse than that caused by
bars, and the issue should be considered during consultation,
Cr Richard Thomson also supported seeking public input on the
draft policy, but questioned aspects of the policy.
That included the merits of banning the sale of some
individual drinks from off-licences, while giving boutique
beers an exemption.
''Is this just because we want a better class of drunk?''
The make-up of the council hearings subcommittee that would
hear public submissions was yet to be determined.
However, Cr Benson-Pope said whoever sat on the subcommittee
could expect ''extensive ... strongly opinionated and also
strongly divided'' submissions.