Suburban bars to appeal new LAP closing times

Seven Dunedin bars are set to argue why new rules forcing them to close at midnight on Friday and Saturday should not apply to them.

Dunedin's local alcohol policy (LAP) came into effect on February 1 meaning a new closing time for the city's licensed premises.

Under the new policy, suburban bars have to close at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights and 11pm during the week.

Of the 19 premises affected by the new residential closing times, seven - The Baaa Sports Bar and Grill, Eureka, Mosgiel Tavern, St Kilda Tavern, Mornington Tavern, Cableways Tavern and Mitchells Tavern - have appealed the change.

All seven hearings will be heard by the Dunedin district licensing committee next week.

Hospitality Association New Zealand Otago president Mark Scully said there had been some confusion among licence holders who were told there would be scope in the plan for them to have later opening hours.

''I don't want to say any names but we feel like we were led to believe if you're a good operator with a good history, it will be done on a case by case.''

There were no appeals against the new residential closing times, Mr Scully said.

''We thought the LAP the council put in place was pretty fair so we withdrew all our appeals but once it came out, we immediately had concerns about the new residential closing times.''

All that was left for bars affected by the change to do was challenge what was or was not residential, he said.

Legal advice given to the HANZ has said there was a very loose definition of what residential meant.

The Dunedin City Council had been helpful and given those bars a chance to make a submission and challenge the ruling.

Council customer and regulatory services group manager Adrian Blair said there were general discussions with bar owners while the LAP was being developed but no commitments were, or could be, made.

The policy went through a long public consultation process and none of the appeals to the draft LAP referred to those maximum hours, Mr Blair said.

The seven premises would continue to operate at their pre-February 1 hours until their review had been considered by the Dunedin licensing committee.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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