Owner against one-way door policy

Ratbags, and its upstairs bar, Innocent Bystander, on the corner of the Octagon and Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Ratbags, and its upstairs bar, Innocent Bystander, on the corner of the Octagon and Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Photo: Peter McIntosh
An Octagon bar is the latest in central Dunedin to have a 3am ''one-way door'' policy recommended as part of its licence, despite no public objections or concerns about its management.

Ratbags and its upstairs bar, Innocent Bystander, look set to be the fifth premises in the Octagon/lower Stuart St area to have the policy imposed, if the District Licensing Committee agrees to the proposal by police, the medical officer of health and the Dunedin City Council's licensing inspector.

The idea has not impressed bar owner Philip Ellis, who told the committee yesterday an unrestricted 4am closing time was his right.

In February, New Zealand's major supermarket chains successfully fought Dunedin City Council efforts to restrict alcohol sales in the city when the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority ruled that parts of the council's local alcohol policy (LAP) were ''unreasonable''.

The LAP would have limited supermarkets' off-licence hours, but also included a 2.30am one-way door policy and 3am closing for most inner-city bars.

A report on Mr Ellis' application from District Licensing Committee secretary Kevin Mechen said no public objections had been received.

The suitability of Mr Ellis had not been challenged, but all the reporting agencies - police, the medical officer of health and the licensing inspector - had submitted adverse reports.

They had ''all raised similar matters in opposition''.

One was to recommend a 3am one-way door policy, in which only those already in the bar could continue drinking until 4am.

There was also concern there was only one duty manager in charge of what was effectively two bars - Ratbags and the upstairs bar.

Ratbags also used an area on the footpath in front of the premises, but the area was not part of the licensed premises, so was in breach of conditions by allowing people to remove alcohol from the licensed area.

On the one-way door policy, alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Ian Paulin said the initiative was commonplace in the industry around the world.

It was a proven method of reducing violence in high-risk areas.

Most central city premises had them.

He said there could be ''a honey pot effect'' in which people shifted to premises without one-way door policies, and there needed to be a level playing field.

Medical officer of health delegate Toni Paterson said Australian research showed the policy had reduced violence in Kings Cross, in Sydney, by 49%.

Licensing inspector Tony Mole went through a list of Octagon and Stuart St bars, which showed four of 11 had the policy as a condition of their licence.

Mr Mole said after the meeting because the LAP had been stopped by the court, the one-way door policy was being progressively introduced when licences came up for renewal.

Mr Ellis told the committee his business managed the bar to the best of its ability.

''We're allowed to open till 4am, and we want to stay that way.''

He said he felt opening to 4am was ''our right''.

''I don't think there's any reason we, as a business, should be restricted.

''We've got a clean record.''

He told licensing committee deputy chairman Andrew Noone the bar had ''custom in the bar after 3 o'clock which is good custom''.

''It's their right to be served.''

Mr Ellis also denied there was a ''honey pot effect''.

He described that as ''pie in the sky''.

Committee chairman Colin Weatherall adjourned the meeting so the committee could come to a decision.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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So according to well-known anti-alcohol lobbyist Ian Paulin, "(a one-way door policy) was a proven method of reducing violence in high-risk areas". Except that, by his own admission, the bar in question has a clean record and so, by definition, is not a "high-risk" area. This is what's commonly known as an own goal.

And as for Toni Paterson's (also a well-known anti-alcohol lobbyist) claim that Australian research showed the policy had reduced violence in Kings Cross by 49%, er, so what? Last time I looked, Dunedin wasn't in King's Cross.

The 'high risk' relates to location, early hours, and violence. The high risk is to police and public. Sometimes, we have to be community minded, not protest about individual 'rights' to sell and buy drinks.

Once again this triumvirate of anti alcohol campaigners seek to impact a responsible business for no other reason than they don't like the sale of alcohol. I seriously wonder how people who repeatedly show obvious bias can be allowed to continue in their jobs.

"Australian research" also shows about half the bars in the King Cross area have closed in the past 2 years- the main area impacted by NSW liquor reduction laws. No one really knows how many jobs have gone, but patrons seem to be going to bars in other areas and avoiding the King Cross area. Once again pseudo science (research?) being used to push radical personal views by so called experts. A smattering of "facts" masquerading a real agenda.

What? Leave the boozer at 3 in the morning and not get back in? This is seriously cutting into drinking time.

You can't extend business to the Permanent Way, or what non railway people call 'the footpath'.

Why would anyone want to drink at 3am or 4am for that matter? It night time. That's when people sleep. There is such a demanding group of bar owners in Dunedin. It is not 'your right', it's society's right to make such decisions. We elect politicians to make decisions for the good of society.

But the elected politicians decided against the One Way Door policy. It's the non-elected people who are pushing for them. By your own logic you should not be supporting the implementation of the policy.

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