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More drinking on Dunedin streets, students warn

Tuesday 11th November 2014

Dunedin City Council's draft Local Alcohol Plan would ban outdoor drinking tables after 11pm, spirit shots from midnight, and bring in a one-way door policy from 1am.

Photo: PHOTONZ

In Dunedin, scarfies are not happy with the council.

Hearings start this morning on the Dunedin City Council's controversial draft Local Alcohol Plan, which would ban outdoor drinking tables after 11pm, spirit shots from midnight, and bring in a one-way door policy from 1am.

The plan has drawn 4264 submissions. Similar proposals from councils in Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington and Tasman District, have also drawn thousands of responses.

Paul Hunt, president-elect of the Otago University Students' Association, believes the plan is draconian and wrong.

OUSA president-elect Paul Hunt says any crackdown should be on the off-licence outlets, not bars.

Photo: Ian Telfer

He says the evidence shows that off-licence outlets, such as bottle shops and supermarkets, and drinking in private homes cause the harm.

Hunt says any crackdown should be on the off-licence outlets, not bars.

“Particularly the one-way door policy will increase alcohol harm ... if there are more students drinking on the street, more property destruction, more rubbish, more noise complaints - that is all going to make that feeling worse,” he says.

The Otago Polytechnic Students’ Association agrees, saying that it has in the past supported a one-way door policy, but now thinks that could do more harm than good.

However, the University of Otago supports all the council's suggestions. It goes further in places, including to suggest that all alcohol sales in Dunedin should end at 2am.

Much of the Dunedin City Council's plan seems to stem from the police, which proposed a range of bans from midnight including that on liquor shots.

But all this has spurred a big reaction from local bar owners, who believe bars will be driven out of business, especially the student haunts. About three-quarters of the nearly 4300 submissions are against the alcohol plan - more than in any other city so far.

Only about 13 per cent of submitters support it.

Inner-city bar owner Richard Newcombe said that is because the council hasn’t done its homework.

Richard Newcombe, owner of Mac's Brew Bar, believes the council hasn't done its homework.

Photo: Ian Telfer

Newcombe, who represents a group formed to fight the plan called the Dunedin Inner City Licencee Forum, said it is not some massive industry - just a collective of small- and medium-sized business owners with staff trying to do a good job.

“We take our responsibilities seriously, and we will get to have a wee bit of a say at the hearings - but at this stage, we have not been consulted at all.”

Council general manager of services and development Simon Pickford insists the process has been a success because it has got a proper debate going about where the line should be on alcohol sales.

LISTEN to Radio New Zealand reporter Ian Telfer's story on the Dunedin City Council's liquor plan:

A version of this story was originally published on radionz.co.nz



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