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A Dunedin City Council liquor licensing inspector has been accused of being out of touch with sports clubs, during a sometimes acrimonious liquor licence hearing for the Pirates rugby club.
The inspector, Tony Mole, was quick to hit back at yesterday's hearing, saying the club's refusal to tweak its approach to the provision of alcohol was ''bewildering''.
The exchanges came at a Dunedin district licensing committee hearing, as Pirates sought to renew the on-licence for its Hancock Park clubrooms.
Since last year, the club had shared its facilities with the Caversham football club and the Macandrew netball club.
To comply with the Supply and Sale of Alcohol Act, the Caversham and Macandrew clubs' players had become associate members of Pirates, allowing them to buy alcohol from the bar.
The Act also allowed any member - including associates - to invite guests into the clubrooms, meaning players and supporters from both sides of a fixture could enjoy a post-match drink together.
But Mr Mole challenged the practice at yesterday's hearing, pointing out the legislation also required guests to be accompanied by a club member.
Police alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Ian Paulin told the hearing that accompaniment was more than just a token invitation.
It required a club member to be ''in the near vicinity [of their guest] most of the time'', although ''obviously if someone goes to the toilet, you are not going to accompany them to the toilet'', he said.
Mr Mole told the hearing he would expect accompaniment to include a member following their guest to the bar if they wanted to buy another drink.
Based on his experience as a sports club member over 15 years, Mr Mole said: ''There's no great amount of accompaniment taking place.''
The issue for Pirates was how to ensure opposition teams and their supporters could buy a post-match drink while still complying with alcohol legislation, he said.
The solution was to have the Pirates, Caversham and Macandrew clubs sign ''reciprocal agreements'' with all their scheduled opponents, once fixtures were confirmed.
The legislation already allowed for authorised visitors - those with reciprocal visiting rights - to buy alcohol from club facilities.
Mr Mole said the approach would be a ''simple fix'', and ''the fact it hasn't been taken up, I find quite bewildering''.
However, Pirates chairman Kelvin Trainor said his club had held a liquor licence for 27 years without issue, and the existing approach was ''best practice''.
He challenged Mr Mole to say how many sports clubs he had inspected in the past year, to which Mr Mole answered: ''I myself haven't done any.''
''So you don't have any idea how they work,'' Mr Trainor retorted.
Asked repeatedly why he would not sign up to the reciprocal agreement approach, Mr Trainor said he only wanted clarity.
He questioned how a reciprocal agreement could be signed with a team that did not have its own facilities to offer access to in return, and worried clubs would be lumbered with the workload of signing agreements across New Zealand.
Pirates was already struggling, as player and team numbers declined and compliance costs increased, and was trying to find ways to increase community use of its facilities, he said.
Sgt Paulin warned if police carried out enforcement action at the club and found non-compliance, the club's licence could be suspended and additional fees imposed.
The hearing adjourned yesterday and a written decision was expected within about a week.