Auckland's top-ranking police officer says "nothing good happens on city streets after 3am" and has criticised a proposal that would allow some bar owners to get a two-hour extension on trading hours.
The Auckland Council is proposing to restrict the latest time liquor can be sold in central city bars, pubs and restaurants from 4am to 3am, and bar sales in outlying town centres would be cut from 4am to 1am.
One proposal which rewards "best practice" operators with trial trading hours extensions of up to two hours was criticised by Superintendent Mike Clement, the district commander for Auckland City.
He said this had the potential to extend some bar closing times to 5am in the central city and to 3am in the outlying metropolitan centres.
"We have always been of the view that nothing good happens on city streets after 3am and that comes from experience." Mr Clement said if the council was serious about reducing harm, it must be true to the intent of the legislation.
"If there is such a thing as a good liquor operator who had the ability to cope with people who are intoxicated, then I have not seen it yet."
Mr Clement revealed progress made since tougher powers under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act came into force on December 18.
There was a 45 per cent drop in assaults in public places over a 24-hour period, from an average of 85 to 47. There had also been a 40 per cent decrease in assaults - from 45 to 27 - between 8pm and 8am.
"It's a strong indicator for us which supports what we said all along: science tells you, to reduce alcohol-related harm, you have to reduce the accessibility and availability of alcohol. A good number of those public place assaults can result in some serious injury if not death. We have already seen a drop-off but we are still getting mindless bashings as the result of people being intoxicated."
He said a one-way door policy in Newcastle, Australia, resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in the number of assaults.
Hospitality Association Auckland branch president Kevin Schwass said the extension proposal gave unclear criteria for what made a good operator and what was "best practice".
He agreed with the police that the proposal for bars outside the city centre to close at 1am would force people to go into the city from Takapuna to Manurewa.
"At 1am, they are not going home. There will be this milling around and the reintroduction of parties at homes."
Councillor George Wood, who is chairman of the regional strategy and policy committee, said the extension was not confined to the CBD and could give centres like Takapuna trading hours up until 3am, though venues would probably be more geared towards providing entertainment than selling alcohol.
The council will decide today if the draft local alcohol policy should go out for public consultation next month.
Last night, Councillor Cathy Casey released a copy of an email sent out by the Auckland branch of Hospitality New Zealand to members seeking "mass representation" at the committee "to show support for the hospitality sector to be counted as an important part of Auckland's vibrancy and see which councillors support this madness".
Local board fights liquor stores in residential areas
Suburban Clendon in South Auckland is "Woodstock country", according to a sign on a liquor shop that local campaigners say should never have been allowed to open.
Simeon Brown, deputy chairman of the Manurewa Local Board, says Finlayson Liquor symbolises what the board is fighting against. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The shop and its bourbon-and-cola RTD sign represents what the Manurewa local board is fighting against in its campaign to restrict the number and location of bottle stores.
The campaign has won some support in the Auckland Council's draft policy for liquor licensing rules in the region, although the board would have preferred a sinking lid to reduce the number of off-licences.
Instead, the draft policy would, for at least two years, prevent any new off- licences being granted in 20 suburban "priority" areas - including Weymouth, which encompasses Clendon. Clendon's Finlayson Liquor shares a small carpark with a takeaway, a laundromat and a superette.
"It symbolises what people in Manurewa have had enough of," said the local board's deputy chairman, Simeon Brown.
There are 28 off-licences in the board's area, nearly half of all liquor licences in the area. Mr Brown said this was the highest proportion for any local board in Auckland.
He said allowing bottle stores in residential areas where children walked to and from school was wrong.
An application to sell alcohol from what is now Finlayson Liquor - a fruit and vege shop at the time - was the subject of a protest march in 2007.
The applicant, who owned the superette, withdrew the bid and sold the superette and the fruit and vege shop after the manager's 22-year-old son, Saishwar Krishna Naidu, was stabbed to death in the shop.
A new liquor licence application was granted in 2010 to Tara Singh, whose right to hold a licence was suspended for two years after he sold alcohol to a minor at a superette in Wiri in 2008.
Mr Singh, who also has liquor stores in Conifer Grove and Papakura, said yesterday he didn't think there was anything wrong with selling alcohol at Finlayson Ave.
"We're running it fine, we've got no trouble, we're working with the community. We're running everything by the law."
- Martin Johnston
Have your say on the plan here.