Booze clampdown call

Fun or disorder?: The Village Green in December

City Hall faces a two-pronged front to tighten Queenstown’s booze laws.

Business lobby group DowntownQT and local police have joined forces to push for a 24-hour liquor ban in public areas.

The two bodies met mayor Jim Boult last Monday, ahead of next Thursday’s first council meeting of the year.

DowntownQT boss Steve Wilde says local businesses support the move.

But Boult thinks not all businesses support it and council won’t be pushed into making a rash decision.

Wilde says last week’s meeting was informative and was an opportunity to outline their concerns.

Council also had a separate meeting about alcohol-related issues with Public Health South.

Queenstown’s top cop inspector Olaf Jensen confirms police support the introduction of a 24-hour ban.

Public Health South’s Dr Derek Bell says any initiative which reduces alcohol-related incidents in the CBD would be welcomed.

Wilde dismisses claims a proposed ban is a knee-jerk reaction to December’s Crate Day – when images of drunken shenanigans and a trashed Village Green were pinged around the world.

He says the push is the culmination of 18 months’ work about the effect of public drinking in Queenstown. Crate Day was simply the catalyst, he adds.

“It really came from concerns within the hospitality industry and what they were dealing with coming off the beach at night.

“We started gathering evidence because it was all really anecdotal.

“We had a gut feeling what was going on on the beach was then spilling over into premises late at night.”

Wilde says not all his members agreed with a proposed ban, initially. But that changed after Crate Day.

“We just can’t have it. We are a $1.5 billion industry, Queenstown Inc, and we can’t have it being ruined by that sort of thing.”

Boult says the council is concerned about public disorder.

But it won’t make an off-the-cuff decision without considering the ramifications.

He won’t yet be drawn on possible solutions.

“I don’t think we’ll reach a landing on it in the short term. I think we will give it very careful consideration before we take any action – if we take any.”