Alf observes with some fascination the goings-on about boozing hours in Wellington.
The rejection of Wellington City Council plans for bar hours has implications for councils in other parts of the country. Hence it may affect the Tararua District Council’s thinking on what is allowable in its patch, and this in turn would affect Alf’s lifestyle.
This means that councils across the county (according to Radio NZ) may struggle to enforce any policies allowing bars to stay open beyond 4am.
Alf can advise his constituents (who are well aware of his habits, anyway) that his lifestyle certainly would not be affected by any requirement for pubs to shut by 4am, because at that hour he has long ago gone home to snuggle down with Mrs Grumble or (sometimes) be put to bed in the spare room.
The Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority Council in this case is reported to have rejected the Wellington council’s plan to allow selected bars to stay open until 5am.
Alf is by no means surprised to learn that Police and Capital and Coast District Health Board successfully appealed the plan. They said that since an earlier closing time (4am) kicked in there had been a marked drop in alcohol-fuelled violence, crime and injuries.
This surely means that if the bars were shut – say – at 2am, the marked drop would be even more marked.
Wellington Inner City Residents and Business Association supported the appeal and the authority went along with them.
Chairperson Geraldine Murphy said many people were worried about the harm to society from extended hours of drinking and excessive alcohol consumption.
“From a residents’ and businessowners’ perspective, it was the unsavoury alcohol related harm – like coming out and finding your front door [has] been used as a toilet overnight, and vomit and broken bottles.”
The only thing that nags Alf is that he finds himself on the same side of the liquor argument on this occasion as certain namby-pamby wowser groups.
A spokesperson for the lobby group Alcohol Healthwatch, Christine Rogan, said she was delighted with the authority’s stance that councils should be focused on reducing alcohol-related harm rather than bar takings.
“At long last public health is being held up as being the primary aim.”
Spokesman for Alcohol Action New Zealand, Professor Doug Sellman, said the liquor industry was one of the most powerful lobby groups in the country and he believed it would fight to stop this decision setting a precedent.
He said the Government could have easily brought in robust opening hours for both on and off-licenses.
“But instead they’re committing every council in New Zealand to take on the alcohol industry individually.
“I think it’s a scandal and we will look back historically and say ‘Why the heck didn’t the Government do something at a central level?'”.
This bugger is way off beam, off course.
It is much better for pub opening hours to be decided at the community level.
We would be a nanny state, indeed, if we politicians in Wellington were to fix the hours for every community in the country.
Alf emphasises this for the benefit of the Hospitality Association’s Wellington branch president, Jeremy Smith, who is moaning about bar owners and restaurateurs being “gutted” by the decision.
He said some bars had taken a 15 percent hit in earnings since 4am closing came into effect in December 2013 “and if some are only making a couple of percent profit, that can have a serious impact”.
Mr Smith said the announcement yesterday that Wellington institution Molly Malone’s had gone into receivership showed times were tough in the industry.
“I fear we’re going to see more closures before people realise it’s gone too far.”
Alf is asonished.
If trimming the opening hours to 4am has resulted in a 15% cut in earnings, one helluva lot of boozing must have been going on between 4am and dawn.
You can be sure none of his beyond-4am tippling involved the Member for Eketahuna North.
His ageing body and the aged bodies of his mates tell them “time gentlemen please” long before 4am.
Mind you, there was a time when they could carry on to that hour, and often did.
If he and his mates could still do it, Alf might have a different opinion about Wellington’s pub hours.