Queenstown liquor ban extension not backed

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A police call to extend the hours and areas in which alcohol is banned in the Queenstown Lakes district is set to be rejected.

Police want year-round bans on alcohol in public areas, at present from 10pm-8am, to start two hours earlier, at 8pm.

The police submission on a review of the district’s liquor bylaw will be discussed at a Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting tomorrow.

Council staff say there is not enough evidence to support extending the bans. The 2009 Liquor in Public Places Bylaw is under review following changes in December to the Local Government Act 2002.

The bylaw prohibits the possession of alcohol in open containers and consumption of alcohol at specified times in parts of Queenstown, Frankton, Arrowtown, Wanaka and Hawea.

In a report to the QLDC, council regulatory manager Lee Webster says the police supported the continuation of the bylaw and 24-hour ban over the New Year period – from 6am on December 27 to 6am on January 6 – and the Queenstown Winter Festival.

The report says police had advised the year-round alcohol ban times were reasonable in addressing alcohol-related issues.

But recently more people had been drinking and gathering in large numbers on the Queenstown waterfront by Marine Parade and Lake Esplanade, causing “examples of disorder” and prompting some complaints from families and nearby hotels.

“The police have consequently recommended an extension of the alcohol ban times to 8pm to 8am … to be more effective in reducing alcohol-related harm,” the report says.

But Webster says it was questionable if there was sufficient evidence to justify increasing the ban hours.

Webster says statements from Eichardt’s Private Hotel and the Novotel Hotel supported the police comments.

They included anecdotal evidence about the volumes of alcohol consumed, noise late into the evening, vandalism, littering, trespassing and disturbance of guests, more prevalent after 8pm.

The council report says the proposed bylaw retained the current ban times.

They would provide “effective enforcement tool” to continue the reduction of alcohol-related crime and disorder.

The police also recommended the council increase the ban area in Wanaka, from Eely Point and along Lakeside Rd, and in Hawea, including the footpath and foreshore from the camping ground and causeway on Capell Ave, to reduce littering.

But Webster says the information from police “does not provide the necessary evidence to demonstrate a high level of crime and disorder” which would justify their inclusion.

“More litter bins in these areas may address the issues identified by police.”

Changes to the Act had increased the statutory threshold for demonstrating the need for continuing a bylaw, meaning the council had to be satisfied the bylaw was a “justified reasonable limitation on people’s rights and freedoms”.

It also had to be satisfied a “high level of crime and disorder”, either caused or made worse by alcohol consumption, was likely to arise if the bylaw was not made.

Webster recommended the council agree to adopt the proposed bylaw for public consultation and appoint a committee to hear submissions.

The council could reconsider proposed changes “when sufficient evidence is available to meet the statutory tests”.

If agreed tomorrow, submissions on the bylaw would close at the end of next month, before hearings in November.

If adopted, the bylaw would come into effect in December.