Queenstown has a backlog of some 130 premises waiting for liquor licence renewals.
Licensee Tony Robertson says it’s another “systemic failure” at the council, which could soon lose its power to issue building consents.
The licence for Robertson’s Hamills restaurant and bar at Remarkables Park is now seven months out of date.
He’s 68th on the list.
The eateries and drinking holes waiting for renewal are still allowed to trade provided they’ve submitted their application to council.
But they won’t be vetted by police or public health inspectors until the council has signed off on the renewal.
Robertson says: “It’s just a systemic failure.
“Things have grown so quickly and with the new licensing laws there’s a lot more applications for special events.
“We haven’t been pumping the money in to cope. Council have employed another inspector now so hopefully it’ll get better.”
Robertson says under the terms of his licence he has to display a valid certificate but hasn’t got one.
Council regulatory boss Lee Webster says new licences and event applications have been prioritised due to a heavy workload.
Webster says: “I acknowledge it’s not ideal, it’s unfortunate we’ve got that delay, but we’ve had to prioritise the work to ensure all of our customers can trade.
“Tony can carry on trading but he wants his new licence on the wall and I respect and understand that.”
Webster says a new inspector was employed last year, taking the total to two, and another one starts on Monday.
Seven district licensing committee hearings have been held this financial year to date, with preparation also taking inspectors’ time.
Webster says he’d aim to issue renewals within 20 days for good customer service.
“There will be improvements.”
Queenstown council has until tomorrow to convince Crown auditor International Accreditation New Zealand it should be allowed to continue issuing building consents after an audit found substantial failings.