On Wednesday Auckland City Council adopted a new provisional Local Alcohol Policy (LAP), after months of submissions and deliberations.
The provisional LAP makes many changes to last year’s draft LAP, which caused SOBA concern in many areas.
SOBA voiced these concerns in both written and verbal submissions, which were taken into consideration by the review panel.
Changes were recommended by the panel on all aspects of the draft LAP on which SOBA submitted, which we have summarised below.
ABV & Vessel Restrictions for Special Licenses
“7.3.1 Additional matters to be considered for discretionary conditions for special licences
– Special licences could have conditions applied such as restriction on size and strength of alcohol, no of drinks sold per person, restriction on type of vessels, progressive closing times (could include restrictions on number of beverages allowed per transaction). In particular restrictions on beer with more than 6% ABV”
– Could have a huge impact on Auckland beer festivals
– Puts brewers who specialise in higher ABV beers at disadvantage
– Will restrict the variety of beers available at special events
– The practical impact of such restrictions will make beer festivals run inefficiently. This will discourage beer festival organisers from holding their festivals in the Auckland region.
This restriction could have been disastrous for the future of Auckland beer festivals. Strength restrictions would have ruled out some of New Zealand’s most interesting and innovative beers, while vessel size restrictions had the potential to cause havoc with lines and waiting times.
This condition would have been a major deterrent for organisers to include a diverse range of beer in their event.
SOBA is pleased to see the condition deleted, and hopes the new clarity will encourage more events showcasing beer in all its diversity.
Single Bottle Restrictions for Off-Licenses
“5.5.2. Restrictions on single unit sales (off license) The licensee must not sell single units of mainstream beer, cider or RTDs in less than 445ml packaging. Boutique and handcrafted beerand cider are exempt from this provision.”
– Forcing consumers to buy more alcohol at one time is counter-intuitive
– The council’s definition of “Boutique and handcrafted beer & cider” is incredibly vague. Any definition by Auckland council will restrict aspects of the hugely diverse range of beer now available in Auckland.
– It is SOBA’s view that “Boutique and handcrafted” is impossible to fairly define.
Panel’s Recommendation: Substantive Amendment
This condition was designed to “limit the availability of cheap alcohol to those with alcohol dependencies.”
While an exemption was offered for “boutique and handcrafted beer and cider,” the vagueness of this exemption would have discouraged off-licenses from stocking any single bottle beers. If applied widely, this would have had a hugely negative impact on the diversity of beers available in Auckland.
It remains SOBA’s view that “Boutique and handcrafted” is impossible to fairly define.
In the provisional LAP restrictions were downgraded from a ‘Tier A’ condition (applied to every licence), to a ‘Tier C’ condition (DLC/ARLA to consider in high/very risk areas).
While this condition will now apply to far fewer off-licenses, SOBA is still concerned about how the council will implement these restrictions.
Late Night ABV Restrictions
“6.3.2. (discretionary condition) Shots, shooters, high strength mixed drinks with more than 45mls of spirit/liqueur in one serve, beer with more than 6% alcohol by volume and RTDs with more than 6% alcohol by volume must not be sold or supplied after 12am (midnight).
4.5.2.(discretionary condition) Shots, shooters, high strength mixed drinks with more than 45mls of spirit/liqueur in one serve, beer with more than 6% alcohol by volume and RTDs with more than 6% alcohol by volume must not be sold or supplied at the following times:
(a) Within the last hour before closing for premises open until 1am or 2am; and
(b) Within the last two hours before closing for premises open after 2am.”
– Discourages venues with this condition in their liquor license from diversifying their beer ranges. This will slow the development of Auckland’s beer culture.
– Brewers whose range of beers tend to be over 6% will be put at a significant commercial disadvantage.
– Prevents many styles of beers being available after certain hours at premises with this condition in their liquor license.
– Clashes with Auckland’s “The show never stops” slogan.
– Discriminates against beer drinkers – why is wine exempt? Wine & 6%+ ABV beer are drunk at a similar rate.
Panel’s Recommendation: Delete
This condition was a clear indicator of the draft LAP author’s mindset. It clearly singles out every type of alcohol except wine for restriction.
If applied it would have meant come closing time you couldn’t buy a pint of 7% IPA, but could quite happily buy a glass of 14% Shiraz.
SOBA is relieved to see this condition deleted.
Overall it seems the majority of our concerns were addressed in a sensible manner, though we will be interested to see if any off-licenses have single bottle restrictions put in place.
There is now a 30 day period for appeals before the policy is implemented.