Bar owner challenges draft alcohol policy

Dunedin bar owners are angry at being left out of discussions over a draft alcohol policy which some fear would put them out of business.

Dunedin Hospitality Ltd (Mac's Brew Bar) director Richard Newcombe said it was not fair the Dunedin City Council had considered reports from police and the Southern District Health Board, while bar owners had been left out of the process.

It was also concerning the draft policy said opinions of ''representatives'' of the hospitality industry had been considered when, as far as he was aware, no-one in the industry had been spoken to.

Given the policy threatened the future of the city's bars, they should have been high up the list of people spoken to as part of pre-consultation.

''As an industry, we are pretty scared. The impact of some of this stuff [is] pretty huge.''

The viability of his bar would be questionable if the proposals went ahead unchanged. Many small business would ''fall over''.

''I've spoken to other [bar owners] who know for sure they will be out of business if this legislation goes ahead.''

Other councils had done more work on investigating the economic consequences of their draft policies, which included consulting bar owners.

Council alcohol licensing officer Kevin Mechen said Mr Newcombe's concern were misplaced as the policy was ''nothing more than a draft'' and the hospitality industry was able to have its say during consultation, which runs until October 10 and will be followed by a public hearing.

The consideration of the opinions of representatives of the hospitality industry involved him attending Hospitality New Zealand committee meetings over the past ''two or three years'', Mr Mechen said.

''The difference was the other two agencies went ahead and prepared documents and submitted documents, whereas other people I have spoken to didn't.''

The hospitality industry could have done the same ''if they wanted to'', he said.

He stressed the ideas put forward by police and the Southern District Health Board were not ''necessarily in the draft policy''.

Changes proposed in the draft policy include introducing 3am closing times for bars (an hour earlier than the present closing time) and a one-way door policy starting at 1am.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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