Access to booze under review (+poll)

By John Cousins


A cap could be imposed on the number of bottle stores and bars allowed to be established in poorer parts of Tauranga and the Western Bay.

Police and public health authorities have delivered strong messages to a meeting to overhaul local alcohol rules.

The Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council will draw up a standard set of rules for public feedback.

Issues up for debate today include the number and density of liquor outlets, their proximity to schools, opening hours and the introduction of a one-way door rule to stop people drifting from bar to bar in the early morning.

The meeting follows community protests in Greerton and Katikati against applications to open more bottle stores, with 100 Greerton residents saying they did not want a sixth off-licence liquor outlet.

Problems with alcohol abuse in Greerton have led to the introduction of a liquor ban in the shopping centre, after complaints that intoxicated vagrants were urinating, vomiting and making a nuisance of themselves.

Police and health authorities want bars in Tauranga's downtown to close one hour earlier at 2am, whereas the council's licensing inspector recommends sticking with 3am. Mount Maunganui's downtown stayed at 1am and the latest a bottle store could remain open was 11pm.

An issues and options paper prepared for the meeting highlighted police opposition to liquor outlets in industrial areas and urged that a limit be put on the number of "entertainment precincts" so police resources were not overstretched.

Police asked for a cap to be placed on the number and type of licensed premises, saying the councils needed to consider issues such as the social and crime characteristics of an area.

"The establishment of licensed premises in areas where there are already alcohol-related issues would be ill-advised."

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board's medical officers of health also sought limits on the number of bars and bottle stores in specific areas.

They want to restrict liquor merchants from targeting areas with higher numbers of young families and to cap the number of outlets in socio-economically deprived areas. Limits would not be imposed on restaurants and cafes.

The councils have been asked to adopt a tiered approach to liquor outlet densities, with the city's two CBDs being higher density areas, lower densities in outlying commercial areas, the lowest density in residential areas and zero outlets in industrial areas.

The Western Bay's licensing inspector asked for the number of bottle stores in Te Puke to be reduced from five to four, while Tauranga's inspector opposed the opening of any more bottle stores in the city.

As for proximity of taverns and bottle stores to schools, the police have asked that no new licensed premises be located "in the vicinity" of childhood care centres, kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools.

Tauranga's licensing inspector said any new licensed premises within 500m of a school should close during the hours that pupils were going to and from school.




Issues likely to influence liquor policy changes

  • The demographics of suburbs.

  • The type of licensed premises and the drinkers they target.

  • The social and crime index of suburbs.

  • Alcohol-related issues identified in suburbs, e.g., domestic violence and public disorder.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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