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Media Release - High Court decision one step closer to a sensible solution for Christchurch Local Alcohol Policy

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

For Immediate Release

21 June 2017

The Christchurch hospitality sector is hopeful it is now one step closer to a sensible resolution to a long running Local Alcohol Policy dispute with the Christchurch City Council, after a High Court decision ruled in favour of the industry.

“As far back as 2013, the Hospitality New Zealand Canterbury Branch had raised concerns about the Council’s Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) as it progressed through a time consuming, expensive and fraught process”, said Amy McLellan-Minty, South Island Area Manager for Hospitality New Zealand. 

“This came to a head in September last year, after the Council accepted an ARLA ruling that it’s LAP had 13 elements that were unreasonable and the Council was then required to “reconsider” those elements” she said. “The Branch became concerned when the Council released its new “reconsiderations” and it appeared to have failed to give regard to a recent decision of the Independent Hearing Panel (IHP) - Decision 43 of the Council’s own new District Plan”.

Decision 43 addressed objectives and policies relating to the late-night sale of alcohol, as well as, recognising the value of existing and future investment by hospitality operators in the Entertainment Precincts identified in the District Plan. 
In October last year, the Branch's legal Counsel, James Gardner Hopkins, sought clarification from the Council about whether it had taken into account Decision 43 in its “reconsiderations” and, if so, how. 

Ms McLellan-Minty says, “We were denied disclosure at that time, on the grounds of professional legal privilege, nor would the Council meet with us to discuss our concerns.  As a result, the Branch felt it had no other choice but to file judicial review proceedings to ensure proper process had been followed.  All we ever asked for was transparency and fairness”.

The High Court decision has now clarified that when developing a LAP, including the reconsideration of any elements, the Council must give regard to the objectives and policies of a District Plan, including a Proposed Plan. 

“Had the Council been more transparent back in October 2016 the judicial review may have been avoidable and saved everyone a lot of time and expense”, she said.  “We hope, in future the Council will pause and consider the issues and genuine concerns we have been raising on behalf of all our members regarding the LAP.  We want a policy that meets the objectives of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act but more we also need one that encourages a thriving Christchurch hospitality scene that is only just getting back on its feet after the 2011 earthquakes.

Media Enquiries:
Amy McLellan-Minty
027 450 1948
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