Diva to serve licence suspension Labour weekend


Police, concerned about inadequate control on the night ... applied for a suspension of the on-licence which allows the business to sell liquor.The popular Diva Bar and Bistro in Havelock North will close for most of Labour Weekend as a penalty for allowing intoxicated patrons to remain on the premises after the All Blacks' semifinal triumph in last year's Rugby World Cup.

The three-day yellow-card was settled in Napier yesterday at a Liquor Licensing Authority hearing which was told police saw one person enter the premises intoxicated and found two others in the bar in similar states, apparently continuing drinking, after the All Blacks beat the Wallabies 20-6 in a game which started at 9pm on Sunday, October 16.

Police, concerned about inadequate control on the night, and the bar's history of a previous liquor licensing breach in 2010, applied for a suspension of the on-licence which allows the business to sell liquor.

Police also applied for suspension of the general manager certificates of that night's duty manager, and proprietors Gerald and Barbara Beach, who had unrelated and separately each been convicted of a drink-driving offence.

The on-licence suspension came after the authority, Judge John Hole, asked the couple to nominate the most suitable dates for the closure, based on avoiding dates when the establishment was already committed to bookings.

The judge also asked for the most suitable periods for the manager certificate suspensions, saying that it would be unfair and pose additional problems for the establishment if the suspensions were all at the same time.

Mrs Beach told the authority the most suitable dates would be October 19-21, despite Judge Hole's observation of potential problems for the business because of it being Hawke's Bay Show Day and the Saturday and Sunday of Labour Weekend.

Saying a more detailed decision would follow in writing, he accepted the dates, and also suspended Mr Beach's certificate for 30 days from 7am today, meeting the proprietor's wish that his suspension start as soon as possible.

His wife's certificate will be suspended for a following period of 30 days, and the certificate of duty manager Abraham Dancaster will be suspended for 14 days.

Judge Hole said the incident on the rugby night was a serious breach of responsibilities, and the establishment had had a previous breach of regulations in 2010, during the four-and-a-half years the couple had been running the business, part of their 36 years in the hospitality industry.

He said Mr Dancaster, now aged 22, would also have received a 30-day suspension, had it not been for the position in which he was placed on the night.

The judge told the proprietors that for such a busy night, Mr Dancaster was a "pretty inexperienced" person to have been put in place as duty manager, having only in recent months beforehand obtained his certificate.

It had been an unenviable position for him to be in, the judge said.

Mrs Beach said the couple tried to run a quality establishment and had since made additional improvements in staff training and management to try to avoid a recurrence.

Mr Beach apologised, saying that "we dropped the ball on that night".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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