Liquor bans a trap, says councillor

Waitaki district councillor Peter Garvan yesterday expressed concerns about the justification for a possible extension to Oamaru's liquor ban, saying the media reported breaches of the ban as if they were "common criminals".

The council was discussing a review of the liquor ban bylaw and possible extension to its area.

The bylaw was introduced in 2003 and prohibits liquor in the historic precinct, harbour area and central business district.

Council officers were recommending amending the bylaw, saying it had proven useful for police dealing with issues arising from consumption of alcohol in central Oamaru.

An expansion would include State Highway 1 from boundary to boundary in the urban town area.

Cr Garvan said young people, who were otherwise law-abiding, could end up in the court news for a "misdemeanour if you like", which was no worse than a speeding fine.

Widening the area would mean more people were "caught in the trap".

Waitaki community safety co-ordinator Alison Banks said those apprehended were recidivist offenders as they received a warning the first time.

Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru police, said the ban had been very effective in the central business area and extending it would cover more of the residential area.

Police received a lot of calls from people about letter boxes being knocked over, gates smashed and people urinating on their lawns.

The liquor ban addressed that kind of disorder and was a "very handy tool", he said.

Cr Gary Kircher was pleased about a possible extension along State Highway 1, saying the council would be getting its priorities wrong if it was not protecting the community and helping police doing their job.

Further consultation will be required on the proposed bylaw.


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