Authority will test city alcohol policy

The future of the Dunedin City Council's alcohol policy will be decided by a court this month, when supermarket giants, hotel industry advocates and liquor outlets challenge the local authority's plans to curb alcohol-related harm.

An appeal hearing has been set down for four days from November 21 in Dunedin.

Council liquor licensing co-ordinator Kevin Mechen said he would present the council's case, explaining its local alcohol policy, with supporting organisations.

Organisations listed as appealing are: supermarket owners Foodstuffs South Island and Progressive Enterprises; Hospitality New Zealand; Dunedin Hospitality Group; Ignition Group; The Mill Retail, Independent Liquor and New Zealand Police.

Ellis Hospitality Group, which owns bars in Dunedin and Queenstown, is listed as an interested party.

The local alcohol policy was signed by councillors in June last year, following extended debate and public consultation.

Its new rules included a 2.30am one-way door policy and 3am closing for most inner-city bars, except ''genuine'' live entertainment venues, which could remain open until 4am.

Supermarkets and other off-licence retailers would have their alcohol hours cut from 7am-11pm to 9am-9pm.

In September it emerged the eight groups had appealed the policy.

Mayor Dave Cull criticised the supermarkets' opposition at the time, saying they were ''putting their profit ahead of the wellbeing of the community''.

The appeal will be heard by the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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