Wellington city councillors have pulled off a game plan to get Victoria University to take more responsibility for students' late-night drinking.

Councillors today voted not to implement a liquor ban at Kelburn Park, which is a favourite drinking spot for students in nearby halls of residence.

It's a convenient place for them to congregate in between getting kicked out of the halls at 10pm and heading into the city's nightlife.

Because as Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association president Tamatha Paul so adequately puts it, the "clubs are dead" at that time.


However, the students' fun has been some residents' worst nightmare.

Make no mistake, from the outset it was unlikely a liquor ban at the park would have been implemented, because there's just not the evidence of alcohol related-harm, crime and disorder needed to do so.

But some had a game plan to force the university to take more responsibility for students and it's played out exactly as they intended.

The spat between residents and the university has been going on for years.

This time there was a fierce determination from some around the council table to get traction on sorting out the issue once and for all.

Councillors ploughed ahead with consultation on a proposed liquor ban despite council officers advising one was not required.

Not everyone was on board. Four councillors voted against doing so, with Peter Gilberd saying the chance of getting a ban was "about zero" and consultation was a waste of time.

But back to the plan.


Facing the prospect of a liquor ban at Kelburn Park, Victoria University finally committed to a review of what's known as a 10pm kickout time for students.

This alcohol practice review will also consider things like upping alcohol-free room allocations and where students are permitted to drink.

Key findings will be implemented for the 2020 academic year across all halls the university operates.

It's this review that's the big win for councillors like Brian Dawson and Fleur Fitzsimons.

"Kicking students out of halls and into the city to drink really seems about moving the problem and making it somebody else's, not about student welfare. Students should be able to drink in their halls of residence, they are a home away from home", Fitzsimons said.

The pair wrote a letter to student and campus living director Rainsforth Dix at the end of last month making it clear neither of them planned to vote for a ban.

They instead wrote in support of an alcohol harm-reduction working group being established. It would include representatives from council, the university community and its neighbours.

The issue of student drinking at Kelburn Park has undoubtedly come to a head these past few months, but the proof of resolution will be in the pudding - baked with an alcohol review and a working group.