Special licence application raises issues under new law

New legislation is creating new issues for liquor licensing in Dunedin.

The city's first special licence application under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 was heard by the District Licensing Committee yesterday.

Richard Newcombe, director of Dunedin Hospitality Ltd (Macs Brew Bar) and Di Lusso Ltd, applied to extend the bars' outside areas for a predicted surge in patrons on Saturday.

He said Orientation activities and the Highlanders' first Super rugby match of the season constituted an event for Dunedin and a special licence was warranted.

A temporary road closure for part of Stuart St and the Octagon was granted, and Mr Newcombe hoped to extend his bars' outside areas so more people could be served on the premises.

An outside bar with limited alcoholic drinks would be set up at Macs Brew Bar to cater for the estimated 100 extra patrons, and extra food would be available as well as non-alcoholic drinks.

His application was opposed by the New Zealand Fire Service, which had concerns about the lack of trial evacuations from both bars and the narrow entrances which could be unsuitable for increased patronage.

It was opposed, too, by Dr Keith Reid of Public Health South, who said harm from increased alcohol consumption arising from the application contravened the new Act.

He said scheduled activities on Saturday did not constitute an event under the Act, and it was not appropriate to grant a licence which allowed alcohol to be served in areas subject to a liquor ban.

''The intent of the new Act is a focus on reducing the availability and accessibility of alcohol.

''It seems paradoxical, therefore, to consider that an expansion of the capacity of licensed premises for the sole purpose of enabling increased sales of alcohol should be considered to be permissible under the new regime,'' Dr Reid said.

Dunedin alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Ian Paulin said police did not initially oppose the application as it was similar to those granted under previous legislation, but he supported the opposing arguments of Dr Reid in relation to the new law and its emphasis on harm reduction.

Committee chairman Colin Weatherall said the application, the first of its kind under the new law, raised issues which would take time to sort out.

Mr Newcombe also applied to extend Di Lusso's opening hours by an hour to 4am.

The committee said it would announce its decision within the next few days.

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