Penalties too harsh: publican

Heff's Hotel publican Stephen Clark says licensing punishments for himself and the bar following a string of incidents involving the police are too hefty. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Heff's Hotel publican Stephen Clark says licensing punishments for himself and the bar following a string of incidents involving the police are too hefty. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A Dunedin publican says the business will struggle to survive when its liquor licence is suspended following a string of incidents, including people being allowed to drink there on Christmas Day.

Heff's Hotel publican Stephen Clark and duty manager Jessie Matheson will be banned from selling alcohol for six and eight weeks respectively and the pub will be unable to sell any alcohol for a week from September 24.

The restrictions imposed by the Alcohol and Licensing Authority (ARLA) come after police found people drinking at the pub on Christmas Day and it was found to be operating outside of its licence hours during a hair- cutting world record attempt on February 23.

On Anzac Day police said they believed Miss Matheson had been drinking and sleeping while working as the pub's duty manager.

Mr Clark denied staff were drinking on the job and said the punishment was unfair.

''It is going to be a real struggle because I'll have no income and the worst thing is I've got a landlord.

''He's not going to let me away with not paying rent.''

He acknowledged he ''may not have gone through the correct channels'' when organising a Christmas dinner for locals, but he did not believe things were as bad as they had been made out to be.

''I think the police have been looking for things, absolutely looking for things to close us down.''

The Christmas dinner was about helping people have a nice day because a lot of people could not afford Christmas dinner, he said.

''It costs me hundreds of dollars to run Christmas Day. I certainly don't do it to make money.''

Patrons came with their own alcohol, and for that reason he did not realise he was breaking the law, he said.

Similarly, he did not consider he was operating outside of his licence hours when he hosted the Guinness World Record attempt because the bar was separated from the area where the event was being held and the woman attempting the record leased part of the premises.

A man shown on the floor in photos of the event was sleeping, not intoxicated, Mr Clark said.

Because the event had been widely publicised he believed alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Ian Paulin should have warned him.

''He says I wasn't doing my job properly, but if he is the alcohol harm prevention officer and he was doing his job, why didn't he warn me about it?''

Sgt Paulin said he did not know about the event beforehand..

''If I had known prior to it, I would have spoken to him, but in the same breath he has got my number, he has got the number of the liquor inspector.''

The event raised funds for the local hospice, Mr Clark said.

He would take the punishment ''on the chin'' but did not believe he had done anything wrong.

''When I took this place over in 2011 it had gang members drinking there. We cleaned them right out. We had to straighten the place up; this used to be a very violent bar but we have cleaned it right up.''

He planned to hire new managers during the suspension period.

He had about a week to appeal the ruling.

margot.taylor@odt.co.nz

 

Comments

Yet again, Dunedin police going after soft targets in preference to serious ones.