Bylaw to look at alcohol-free zones in Hutt

Hutt News, August 9, 2016

A proposed bylaw shouldn’t stop people taking an unfinished bottle of wine home from a BYO restaurant.

Hutt City Council decided to consult on its draft Alcohol in Public Places Bylaw at its full council meeting on august 1.

The bylaw would impose alcohol-free zones between 9pm and 5am and allow for areas to be deemed alcohol-free at all times if it could be proven there was alcohol-related public disorder there.

The council is considering two different options for the 9pm till 5am ban, one which would apply citywide and one exempting Eastbourne and the Western Hills.

Mayor Ray Wallace said the bylaw wouldn’t extend to licensed premises, such as bars and restaurants, or private property.  It would cover areas such as parks, the river bank, and public streets.  “A lot of crimes in our city are related to or made worse by alcohol consumption.  We want people to feel safe in public places.”

Councillor Margaret Cousins, the chairwoman of the council’s policy ad regulator committee, said the council’s power to impose the bylaw was limited.

“We are reliant on communities to come in and tell us if there have been instances of higher levels of public disorder in their community as a result of alcohol.”

Max Shierlaw asked about a provision in the proposed bylaw around which said it did not prohibit the transport of unopened bottles of alcohol to or from a licensed premises or a person’s residence.  He asked if that allowed for the transport of a partially consumed bottle of wine.

“If you’re sitting in a BYO restaurant… and you decide that in civic mindedness of drink driving that you won’t consume the other half because you have to drive home and you decide to take it home, is that a criminal offence?”

“The Mayor said Police had the discretion to not take action unless a person was physically drinking on the street.”

He reiterated the purpose of the bylaw was not to target responsible drinkers.  “It is to capture those who choose to have walking parties.”