Wellington City Seeks Public Voice on Alcohol Harm Reduction

20 June 2013

The Wellington City Council has today agreed the shape of its draft Local Alcohol Policy and draft Alcohol Management Strategy for public consultation.

The policy, mandated under Central Government legislation looks at the sale and availability of alcohol, including the number of outlets, their location and conditions under which they can operate.

The Local Alcohol Policy has recommended variations on the maximum trading hours for inner-city bars, with 7am–5am licences for ‘best practice premises’ in a inner-city zoned area (Courtenay Place through to Cuba Street) and 7am–3am for the rest of the Central City. It also recommends suburban bars would operate from 7am until midnight. Most premises outside the entertainment precinct already close by 3am.

Councillors have agreed to consult on a 7am to 9pm trading hours for off-licences city-wide including supermarkets, bottle stores and dairies.

The strategy proposes positive initiatives including Capital Hosts, CCTV and strengthening the entertainment and transport options late at night in the entertainment precinct of Courtenay Place and Cuba Street.

Council aims to balance reducing the harm from alcohol with ensuring a vibrant, safe and energetic hospitality sector. It follows a comprehensive programme of engagement with the public, key stakeholders such as the hospitality and retail industry, Police, Medical Officer of Health, different ethnic communities and residents associations, which was commended by public participants today.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the strategy takes a wider view of alcohol provision and how it can positively contribute to our aspirations for a dynamic and safe central city.

"Council’s role is to help provide leadership to reduce the harm caused by alcohol and support good business," says Mayor Wade-Brown. "The measures Council proposes are backed up by evidence and the support of police, community leaders and medical experts.

"In establishing the draft local alcohol policy Wellington City will have the most liberal opening hours in New Zealand for on licenses.

"This is a draft policy; we’re committed to hearing all sides of the debate before Council finalises the strategy and we are committed to maintaining Wellington as vibrant, hospitable and safe place.

Cr Stephanie Cook, Council’s Social Portfolio Leader, says the draft Local Alcohol Policy’s key features to be consulted on include the establishment of entertainment precincts in the inner city, proposed hours of trade for on-licenses, and restrictions on the hours of sale from off-licenses.

"Alcohol is no ordinary commodity and it’s important the public can have a say in how we reduce the harm caused by it."

The Draft Alcohol Management Strategy has five focus areas: pre-loading/side-loading, central city safety and vibrancy, community participation, alcohol at events, and sector collaboration.

Consultation will open 2 July and submissions will close 2 August. When the public consultation process ends, the Council will reflect back on all the feedback received and consider whether or not to approve the provisional policy. This is likely to happen in early September 2013