New liquor licensing code on way

Changes to the way liquor licensing is dealt with in Dunedin are likely to be confirmed next year when the Alcohol Reform Bill goes through its third and final reading in Parliament.

A district licensing committee will replace the existing district licensing agency upon implementation of the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, which will change the role and structure of Dunedin City Council activities surrounding the licensing of premises in the district.

The Act could also spell substantial fee increases for bar owners, and already some have warned premises will be forced to close.

At the council's planning and environment committee meeting on Tuesday, DCC liquor licensing and projects officer Kevin Mechen tabled a report outlining progress of the new legislation.

Mr Mechen said the Bill, as of this week, was No 20 on the parliamentary order paper, which meant it would be "coming up" for its third reading sometime next year.

Until then, the council was unable to implement any changes, he said.

"While the delays are frustrating, the Ministry of Justice is working at finalising a lot of technical detail both in the Bill and subsequent regulations," he said.

Once the final reading took place, the council would have six months to understand and begin working with the new licensing criteria, and 12 months to establish the new district licensing committee.

"The committee begins its role 12 months after the new Act receives the royal assent," he said.

Regulatory changes meant more work for the council, because the committee would have to consider all applications for new alcohol licences and manager's certificates, as well as renewals.

Bars were expected to bear the cost of increased council work, as well as the potential doubling of application fees.

Mr Mechen said the council would receive a full report outlining the changes and their impact on the council as soon as the Bill had its final reading.




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