Breaches by Octagon bar of concern

Ian Paulin
Ian Paulin

Serving intoxicated gang members, overloading its venue and not having appropriate security on busy nights were some of the accusations made against an Octagon bar yesterday as police called into question its suitability for a liquor licence.

The majority of those accusations made by police were inaccurate, a bar representative responded.

The District Licensing Committee heard an application by the Dunedin Social Club for a licence renewal.

The renewal was opposed by both police and Public Health South.

Police alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Ian Paulin presented a list of instances in which he said the bar was acting irresponsibly.

One example was a night when three men who were rejected from two other bars due to intoxication were allowed in after giving ``what you'd call a bro shake'' to the security member at the door, Sgt Paulin said.

The men were were then observed drinking in the bar's outdoor area.

They tried to go to another bar, but were denied entry due to intoxication and the fact they were ``known gang members'', he said.

They were then allowed back inside the Dunedin Social Club.

One of the men was later arrested for disorderly conduct, Sgt Paulin said.

Another example was on the night of the Lions v Highlanders rugby match on June 13.

The outside area of the bar was extended to the footpath which it had not applied for with a special licence, he said.

There was no security stationed outside when police patrolled at 5.30pm and patrons were leaving through a gap in the barriers with full vessels of beer, Sgt Paulin said.

``They were packed to overflowing on what was the busiest day of the year up to that point.''

He then went up to the bar and was told by a staff member the duty manager had gone home, Sgt Paulin said.

Later in the night he spoke to a security guard who was ``in training'' and observed he was not appropriately assessing the intoxication of customers as they entered.

On another night he found a man ``slumped'' at 1.50am who had difficulty forming words and initially could not stand up, he said.

Dunedin City Council liquor licensing inspector Tony Mole said the bar's ``suitability'' for a liquor licence was put into question by it not paying bills on time, including an 11-week outstanding footpath permit and a health licence which was seven weeks overdue.

The council now only accepted cash payment from the establishment, he said.

Cook Brothers Bars chief executive James Arnott said he thought most of the accusations were inaccurate.

On the night of the Lions game the bar had the same outdoor layout as any other night, he said.

He denied the bar was above capacity.

``I personally don't believe the occupancy numbers have exceeded the fire numbers.''

A duty manager was behind the bar that night when police said she was absent, he said.

``A review of video footage between 5pm and 6pm shows no sign of Mr Paulin approaching the bar.''

The ``slumped'' man Sgt Paulin referred to was identified by the duty manager as ``influenced'' and so was cut off, given water, and constantly monitored, he said.

In general the police's method of dealing with issues was not done in a collaborative manner and they ``intimidated'' duty managers instead of contacting him personally, he said.

This led to the resignation of a previous duty manager, he said.

Regarding the incident with gang members, this was information to him and so he could not comment.

Senior staff implemented a late night one-way door policy in ``good faith'' since the police instructed them to, despite not being legally required to, he said.

Mr Arnott said the bar tried to resolve overdue council fees, but the organisation made them ``very difficult to pay''.

The police have separately issued two enforcement applications to Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority regarding the Dunedin Social Club. One relates to the outdoor advertising of significantly discounted beer and another to extending its boundaries on the footpath on the Lions game night.

Due to the discrepancy over camera footage the hearing would reconvene in weeks.



It really does seem to be time Mr Paulin and Mr Mole were moved on to different police roles. It seems that every licence renewal features these two gentlemen opposing the renewal.
And as for Public Health South, I think their ideological opposition to fast food and alcohol has pretty well proven their opinion shouldn't be considered. Zealots simply can't provide a balanced opinion.