Taps off at Meeanee Hotel for licence breaches

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A rural Napier hotel has been hit with one of the longest bans ever imposed by the national Liquor Licensing Authority for repeated licence breaches, including supplying minors and failing to have sufficient food available to patrons in its bar.

The Meeanee Hotel will have to close for 28 days from November 12, a blow for family company Micore Investments which has operated the hotel since 2006.

Director Mike Pawson, who has also had his general manager certificate suspended for 30 days, and whose company admitted the breaches, was last night unable to comment, apart from saying he had no choice but to close the premises for the month.


The suspensions come after an LLA hearing held in Hastings on Tuesday, before Judge John Hole and a lay-member, based on two applications made by Napier District Licensing Agency inspector Jason Sheehan.


The agency mounted a host responsibility operation on May 18, and about 9.40pm found no food was available, while fewer than four weeks later, about 9.40pm on June 23, two volunteers, aged 16 and 17, entered the premises in a controlled purchase operation.


Mr Pawson sold liquor to one teenager without asking for identification or proof of age.


The Authority said special aggravating features were that it was the third time in slightly more than two years that the premises had "failed" in a controlled purchase operation, and the second while Mr Pawson was involved as manager.


He said it indicated a "systemic failure" of both the licensee and the manager in complying with the Sale of Liquor Act, which was brought in in 1989 amid deregulation which has seen the number of licensed premises throughout the country more than treble.


The Authority also said the failure to have food available was "a clear indication that the premises were not operating properly".


It was surprising that the licensee failed to take steps between the two days to improve the way in which the premises were operating, Judge Hole said.


Recognising the licensee's acceptance of the facts, the agency did not seek a specific length for the suspension.


Mr Sheehan told Hawke's Bay Today: "I believe this will certainly be a wake-up call for the industry."


A third breach in a controlled purchase is rare, he said, and he noted the Alcohol Reform Bill currently before Parliament has a "three-strikes" provision relating three offences within three years.


It is the biggest suspension imposed on any licensed premises in Hawke's Bay.


Last year the licence of the Taradale Club was suspended for 26 days.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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