New bar owners backed by authorities as they seek on-licence

The new owners of Dunedin's Mou Very bar have won praise from authorities as they seek a new on-licence for a tiny venue with a history of problems.

Henry Easton and Charlotte Quin, of Hole in the Wall Ltd, made their case for an on-licence for the self-proclaimed smallest bar in New Zealand at a meeting of the Dunedin District Licensing Committee yesterday.

The pair replaced Madeleine McCoy as owners of the George St bar in August last year, after police and Dunedin City Council staff expressed concern about Ms McCoy's attitude to Sale of Liquor Act requirements.

Council liquor licensing inspector Tony Mole told the hearing the bar had a ''chequered background'' and a history of complaints from neighbours.

However, the new owners' application for an on-licence for alcohol sales - which would replace an existing temporary authority the bar was operating under - won support from authorities yesterday.

Police, council and New Zealand Fire Service officials praised the turnaround in the management of the venue under the new owners.

The bar's former licensee, Olivier Lequeux, and two representatives from a body corporate representing tenants in neighbouring flats maintained their opposition to the application, citing concerns about noise and the use of an adjoining alleyway and courtyard by bar patrons.

Mr Lequeux did not appear at yesterday's hearing and was not considered a valid objector, having been issued with a trespass order concerning the bar, Mr Mole's report to the hearing said.

The body corporate's president, Steve Greig, also told the hearing he would withdraw his opposition after learning Mr Lequeux was no longer involved in the business.

The new owners, in turn, said they would accept revised trading hours, limiting the bar to closing at midnight from Sunday to Tuesday and 2am on other days.

Staff would also be told to stop selling alcohol through a ''hatch'' opening on to George St from 10pm each night, they said.

The committee - chairman Colin Weatherall and councillors David Benson-Pope and Andrew Noone - adjourned the hearing yesterday, and would conduct a site visit before releasing a decision.

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