Tuesday, 27 January 2009 - 3:21pm |

City bar has its hours reduced

2 min read

No bar in Palmerston North will now open past 3am following a successful application by police to reduce the licensing hours of The Red Doors.

The venue, previously known as The Lounge Bar, had a monopoly in the city on drinking between 3am and 6am causing concern to police trying to reduce alcohol related harm.

When the owners applied to renew their licence police expressed opposition seeking the suspension, cancellation or variation of the licence, an application supported by Health and the Council.

Throughout the hearing in December 30 witnesses gave evidence and 117 exhibits were submitted. Included in the evidence were survey results showing that there were regularly up to 200 people at the premises between 3am and 6am.

Police also presented statistics relating to arrests between June 2005 and August 2008. Between those times there were 43 arrests recorded as alcohol related. Of those arrests 33 (80%) took place between 3am and 8am and 26 of those 33 (60%) indicated that they had consumed their last drink at The Lounge Bar/Red Doors.

The hearing heard of breaches of licence, smokers blocking the emergency fire escape, delayed access to police officers wanting to inspect the premises and no food on sale - a requirement to help reduce the effects of alcohol.

Outlining the decision by the Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA) Judge Unwin accused The Red Doors director of "a complete lack of understanding of the problem she was creating for Palmerston North, and an unwillingness to accept any responsibility for disorder in the streets after 3am", instead trying to divert the blame to the police.

He stated that "we seriously considered refusing to renew the licence" as the privilege of the licence held had been ignored and abused.

Judge Unwin added "Such is our concern at the licensee's attitude and the popularity of the premises as a place to drink to late in the morning, we intend to have the premises close at 2am to ensure there is no chance of more breaches of the Act."

The judgement also furnished "the highest praise" on the professionalism displayed by police representatives and witnesses stating "we have not before experienced a better presentation."

Palmerston North's Acting Inspector Brett Calkin said: "Our motivation is creating a safer community. Alcohol is a factor in a significant number of crimes and crashes and this venue was a magnet to intoxicated drinkers when all the others bars had shut. We see the decision by the LLA as a positive step in reducing the risk during those vulnerable early hours.

"We are also pleased that the move has brought consistency to the city. It not only provides a level playing field to licensed premises, the tighter timeframe in which alcohol is accessible will help us to better target police resources."

Media enquiries should be referred to Acting Inspector Brett Calkin on 06 351 3841 or Liquor Licensing Co-ordinator for Central District, Senior Sergeant Tracy Patterson on 06 351 2514.