Council supports proposed change to alcohol law
Kāpiti Coast District Mayor K Gurunathan says Council has heard the call from communities distressed about the negative impacts of alcohol, especially in Ōtaki, and will support proposed changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill seeks to remove the special appeal process through local alcohol policies, and wind down alcohol advertising and sponsorship of sports.
The Bill is currently before Parliament and awaiting its first reading. Councillors on Thursday agreed staff should prepare a submission supporting the Bill if it progresses through to Select Committee.
Mayor Gurunathan says local alcohol policies are powerful opportunities for communities to have a say in how alcohol is sold and supplied within their neighbourhoods.
Research clearly correlates harm from alcohol with the number and types of alcohol outlets and their trading hours. Local alcohol policies can introduce controls on these matters and reduce this harm.
However, since the current Act came into force in 2012 councils have had ongoing difficulties adopting the local alcohol policies their communities have wanted.
“There are some horror stories of councils and communities agreeing a local alcohol policy would be good for reducing harm, only to have provisional policies appealed and held up by legal challenge from the liquor industry,” Mr Gurunathan says.
“In some cases councils have abandoned proposed policies because the associated legal and staff costs have become too high.
“It should be for communities and their councils to make a call, without the possibility of expensive legal challenge hanging over the whole process. This is why the Council supports this Bill.
“If there is an argument to be made against a policy the mandatory public consultation is the time to make that, and there is always the option of a judicial review.”
Mr Gurunathan says Council’s support of the Amendment Bill reflects its response to long-standing concern from some in the community about alcohol-related harm.
Council is currently working with Regional Health and Police to gather evidence for Council to decide if a Kāpiti local alcohol policy could help reduce the harmful impacts of alcohol in our community. Work started in 2021 and is continuing now after a COVID-19 enforced delay.
“We know most people who use alcohol do so responsibly,” Mayor Gurunathan says.
“But the harms and costs of alcohol can be devastating and are borne by everyone in the community.
“If there are steps we could take to reduce these harms without overly impacting other users we should investigate those.
“While there is still work to complete before progressing a possible policy, it should be a decision for the community to make. If, after consideration of the evidence, we do propose a local alcohol policy for Kāpiti a formal community consultation will follow.”
About local alcohol policies
Local Alcohol Policies are commonly used by councils to better manage the sale and supply of alcohol in communities. A Local Alcohol Policy can specify things like how far licenced premises can be from public facilities, how many types of licences can be issued in the district, and hours of trading.
A Local Alcohol Policy could set different rules in different areas to reflect each community’s views, character, needs and values.
Visit kapiticoast.govt.nz/local-alcohol-policy to read more about our work.