Bar loses bid to open until 4am on ad hoc basis

Cork Bar in Wanaka. Photo: Mark Price
Cork Bar in Wanaka. Photo: Mark Price
The first Wanaka bar to challenge Queenstown Lakes District Council’s liquor licensing policy, wanting to trade on an "ad hoc basis" to 4am, has had its application rejected.

Tullamore Springs Ltd applied to vary the on-licence hours for Cork Bar from its  2.30am closure to 4am.

That was opposed by the police, the Medical Officer of Health and some members of the public.

In their decision, Queenstown Lakes District Licensing Committee chairman Judge Bill Unwin and members John Mann and Lyal Cocks said, generally, opposition concerned the potential compromise of the integrity of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012; harm caused by excessive or inappropriate alcohol consumption would be increased; and the amenity and good order of the Wanaka CBD was likely to be reduced by a more than minor extent.

Company director Jeremy Warnock did not want to trade until 4am every day, but "wished to have the option to do so, depending on demand from tourists and visitors".

"He contended that the case was about his ‘right’ under the Act to be granted a licence until 4am.

"He objected to the fact that premises in the Queenstown CBD could trade until 4am but not in Wanaka, which he felt was discrimination.

"He argued that there should be one rule for all premises in the Queenstown Lakes catchment."

Mr Warnock did not accept that opening the bar longer would result in more alcohol-related issues and told the committee he did not employ security staff and had no intention of doing so on a permanent basis, but would get security in "when it was necessary".

Senior Constable Ian Henderson, Wanaka’s Alcohol Harm Prevention Officer, said there were no taxis operating in Wanaka at 4am, and the police had insufficient resources to patrol beyond midnight Mondays to Fridays, or 3am on Saturdays and Sundays.

Included in his concerns were an increase in the number of drink-drivers, alcohol-related disorder, wilful damage and assaults.

Judge Unwin said the application was a "significant moment" for Wanaka and the licensees, but the committee was "underwhelmed" by it and the company displayed an "unwillingness to put systems in place to ensure that the Act’s objects would be achieved".

"It seemed to us that the company did not accept that an extension of trading hours was a privilege and not a right, and that there would be corresponding responsibilities.

"In fairness to Mr Warnock, he finally recognised that there were issues that had not been covered and in his final submissions he did state that he would change his systems if the closing time was extended.

"In our opinion it was a case of too little, too late." 

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