Queenstown bar licence suspended for 72 hours

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A Queenstown bar was closed for 72 hours and another bar’s owner is selling up as a booze crackdown continues. 

Camp Street’s late-night venue Skybar had its alcohol licence suspended from Friday morning until Monday – after a series of incidents in 2012 and 2013. 

Aucklander Mike Knight needed surgery to repair fractures to his cheek, eye socket and nose, plus nerve damage, after being punched in the bar. 

In another incident, a 19-year-old Swedish tourist was locked inside overnight after passing out in the toilets. 

Meanwhile, Powder Room bar owner Rajesh Patel confirmed to Mountain Scene he’s selling up after trouble at his bar. 

Powder Room, off Searle Lane, is operating under a temporary licence after being pinged for drug-snorting DJs, naked customers fighting and a drunken duty manager. 

Skybar’s closure was imposed by New Zealand’s Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA). 

Queenstown Lakes District Council’s regulatory boss Lee Webster says: “We asked for a three-day suspension. 

“It’s the longest suspension locally I can remember in recent times – it’s testament to the issues we’ve been working through with the licensee over that period.” 

Two weeks ago, Queenstown cops visited more than 25 bars in the town enforcing the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act – which features a new definition of ‘intoxication’. 

Skybar’s suspension was put through under the old act. 

Skybar owner Daniel Taiaroa says: “Eventually after almost a year without incident we agreed on a 72-hour suspension to be put forward to ARLA instead of continuing the wait for a hearing date. 

“Although I was looking forward to showing our responses and systems that have been put in place to ensure these incidents don’t happen again, which they haven’t, I was happy to get this behind us. 

“Having the suspension fall on a mid-winter weekend was obviously not ideal, but I’m happy that it has been resolved. 

“All we can do is learn from these experiences.” 

Patel told Queenstown District Licensing Committee he had owned Powder Room with Skybar owner Taiaroa Group Ltd – Daniel and his brother Ricki. 

But they elected to leave the business after being told a temporary licence application would be opposed due to Skybar’s issues. 

Webster says the closure sets an example, and ARLA and the Liquor Licensing Authority don’t close a licensed premises for a long period, easily. Five days is the longest nationally. 

“Now there’s increased enforcement from the police and also from ourselves under the new act, ensuring the licensees are adhering to the rules.”