Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Licence on fast-track before family function

Auckland Mayor Len Brown's daughter Samantha, seen here with Tim Colgan, has booked the Stamford for a function. Photo / Supplied
Auckland Mayor Len Brown's daughter Samantha, seen here with Tim Colgan, has booked the Stamford for a function. Photo / Supplied

Mayor Len Brown's office was involved in the fast-tracking of a liquor licence application for a top Auckland hotel.

Stamford Plaza general manager Paul Evans called the mayor's office after discovering the hotel's liquor licence had expired almost four months earlier.

Sources told the Herald on Sunday the mayor's stepdaughter, Samantha, is planning a function at the hotel. She confirmed this last night but referred all further queries to the mayor.

Under Auckland Council's district licensing agency rules, any business which does not renew its liquor licence before it expires must apply for a new licence, a process which includes applying for a new liquor planning certificate, building code certificate, notifying the public and - in some cases - allowing police to inspect the site.

According to the Auckland Council website, it takes approximately 20 days to process an application.

The Herald on Sunday has obtained documentation outlining the swift relicensing.

The Stamford Hotel's liquor licensing consultant applied for a new licence on December 13.

The same day, a council licensing inspector wrote on a building code certificate application that it was "fast-tracked" and an inspection should be booked for that afternoon.

The building code certificate was signed off by building control manager Ian McCormick the following day.

Brown's spokesman Glyn Jones said the mayor was not involved in fast-tracking the application, but confirmed his office was contacted.

"An inquiry was received by the office and routinely referred to council staff."

The hotel general manager, Paul Evans, referred further comment to the hotel's media relations consultant Kathy Cunningham.

Cunningham said the hotel traded without a liquor licence for almost 4 months before the agency contacted their head chef to tell them it had expired.

Asked why Evans contacted the mayor's office rather than the agency, Cunningham said Evans told her it was because he didn't know what to do.

"He called the mayor's office and spoke to his PA, only to find out who to talk to or what procedure he needed to do. That's it. He didn't know who to turn to so he just went to the top and they directed him to the liquor licence authority."

Cunningham said Evans had only been in the job since November.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Evans was director of operations at Hilton Auckland for four years and director of hotels for Melview Developments for almost six years.

Cunningham said no bookings were affected by the licence lapse because the hotel was allowed to extend the liquor licence for the Grasshopper Restaurant, which is inside the hotel building but under different ownership.

That was confirmed the day after the December 13 application. The full licence was granted again on January 23 this year.

"Legally, everything was fine because we checked that with everyone to make sure it was above board. We were told by the liquor licence agency and police that it was fine."

When asked yesterday at the Auckland Pride Parade about the matter, Brown said his office had already answered the questions and he had nothing more to say.

- Herald on Sunday

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