City-wide Liquor Ban: Councillors OK Further Work

18 February 2010

The possibility of a city-wide liquor ban is a step closer following today's meeting of Wellington City Council's Strategy and Policy Committee.

The committee told Council officers to do further investigation work and also prepare a draft bylaw to be discussed at another committee meeting on 18 March.

If the proposal is approved, public consultation will take place in April and May before a final decision on the proposal is made by the Council in June.

The Council first adopted a weekend liquor ban in the central city in 2003. Since then it has been extended to '24/7' ban and has expanded to encompass Oriental Bay, Mt Victoria lookout, Aro Valley and Central Park.

Today's vote has been prompted by community concern about drinking-related anti-social behaviour in the streets and parks in Newtown and calls for bans in other parts of the city.

Mayor Kerry Prendergast says the Council has listened to many members of the public who have to deal with the problems linked with drinking in public places. "We're seeing swearing, fighting, vomiting and broken glass in Newtown. But while Newtown is the current hot spot, similar problems occur across the city.

"Extending the liquor ban would mean we could deal with problems in the suburbs. It wouldn't be about stopping people having a quiet beer or a glass of wine on the beach or in the park - and the Police are already on the record as saying they would use discretion."

The Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ngaire Best, said a 24/7 ban across the city would provide consistency and give the Police the power to intervene at an early stage, before real problems arise.

"We've heard anecdotes from residents who, for example, are driven to distraction by people who hold impromptu parties in suburban bus stops when they're on their way into town. They break bottles, yell and swear, vomit and create chaos - but there's nothing the Police can really do at the moment about the drinking of alcohol - which is generally the cause of the problems."    

Cr Best says Council officers will be asked to liaise with Wellington and Kapiti-Mana Police (in terms of the implications for the Tawa area). They will also provide further details about the cost implications from the city-wide proposal - including the cost of signage.