Liquor ban alternatives sought

Kate Wilson.
Kate Wilson.
The extension of the liquor ban to North Dunedin might not be the best way to curb harmful drinking among students and is only one of many tools the council and other groups are considering to tackle the problem, Cr Kate Wilson says.

Cr Wilson's comments came after she and Cr Teresa Stevenson met the OUSA and the youth action committee yesterday to discuss the liquor ban and other ways of reducing alcohol-related harm.

It was the first of a series of meetings the council will have with groups, including the OUSA, police and the health sector, after it delayed its decision on extending a liquor ban last month for further consideration.

Cr Wilson said the meetings were about finding the best mix to reduce alcohol-related harm, which did "not necessarily" involve a liquor ban.

"There is no point using ... [a liquor ban] as a tool if you are not going to get buy-in [from those affected]."

At the meeting, the OUSA and and the youth action committee had agreed, along with other groups, to work on an "action plan" to reduce alcohol-related harm, she said.

OUSA president Logan Edgar said the meeting went well. The OUSA and the council shared many of the same views when it came to reducing alcohol-related harm.

"We look forward to meeting with a wider group of agencies to discuss the issue further and work on a more sustainable outcome other than a discriminatory liquor ban," Mr Edgar said.

Logan Edgar.
Logan Edgar.
The meeting came after the OUSA agreed on an alternative strategy to reduce harmful drinking among students, which it will push instead of the proposed extension of the liquor ban.

The OUSA's strategy supports efforts to reduce harmful drinking, but says students should have the "same rights and privileges as any New Zealand citizen".

The strategy included having more bars and events in North Dunedin so students were able to drink in "regulated environments that help teach people that you don't have to be ... [wasted] to have a great time with mates".

Other measures included having a public glass ban in the North Dunedin area and improving the standards of student flats. Both these measures would make students less likely to want to "trash the place", the strategy said.

Mr Edgar said the OUSA believed the measures would reduce excessive drinking among the student population.

"Some people take it too far. We need to find a balance in society where drinking is OK but being a complete write-off is not."

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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