Queenstown noise warriors – including former mayor Warren Cooper – have stared down a legal threat and struck a blow against late-night racket from bars.
Cooper joined downtown Queenstown landlord Peter Fleming and ex-Eichardt’s Private Hotel boss Victoria Shaw to successfully object to Guilty bar’s push to exceed late-night noise limits.
The trio mounted a protest after Queenstown Lakes District Council cut a deal late last year with the Ballarat Street bar.
|QLDC’s compromise would have allowed Guilty to keep its outside deck open for drinkers after 10pm on three nights a week – instead of the seven nights requested.
Cooper, Fleming and Shaw proceeded with their objections to this in the Environment Court despite Guilty lawyer Rex Chapman, of Invercargill-based Cruickshank Pryde, firing a “threatening” letter to Fleming and Shaw.
The letter told the pair if they lost they could be liable for Guilty’s costs – estimated at $45,000 plus GST.
Judge Fred McElrea found in the objectors’ favour last week – deciding 10pm closure of Guilty’s outside deck should remain in place seven days a week. He also described Chapman’s letter as “inappropriate and threatening”.
McElrea says it’s rare a court ever awards full costs against objectors who lose and that Cooper, Fleming and Shaw were “fully entitled to participate”.
“Without their involvement, an important case for this district would have had a very different outcome,” McElrea says.
Cooper, a downtown landlord, claims central Queenstown would have become “a hell-hole within some years” had they lost.
“It would have had a ricochet effect because everybody would claim the same right under the precedent given.
“One of the worst things you can suffer is sleep deprivation. If the noise outside is supposed to stop virtually at 10pm, it should stop at 10,” Cooper says.