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The Press-News column June 19

Alcohol Reforms.

Last week I argued that most one-way door policies imposed on the hospitality trade, have subsequently been abandoned on the grounds of ineffectiveness. Some correspondents have challenged me to furnish those claims with supporting evidence. Fair enough, too! ALAC assessed Christchurch’s previous one-way policy, concluding in their own publicly available evaluation that it failed to achieve its stated goal of cutting crime by 10%. Across the creek, many Australian cities have ditched their one-way policies, or lockouts as they call them, notably Melbourne and Sydney who both trialled and scrapped 2am lockouts. The Victorian Premier’s alcohol taskforce concluded the Melbourne CBD lockout was” an unmitigated failure.” Meanwhile, Brisbane and Adelaide are currently both pursuing a 3am lockout, which is decidedly more generous than the strangulating  1am lockout  slated for our city. I think a 3am shutdown in central Christchurch is entirely reasonable, but banning people from entering any licensed premises at 1am will cast a deep shadow across our nightlife scene, unfairly blunting its verve and sparkle. Why should responsible nightspots and their responsible patrons be treated like public pests? Parliament should hang its head in shame for coughing up the opportunity to tackle the trouble-makers with targeted law changes. For example, why not reinstate public drunkenness as a summary offence. Instead, the police have to wait until the drunk descends into disorderly or offensive behaviour before they can pounce. Why not implement a star ratings system for licensed premises, as Sydney is doing? And I concur with the British deputy Prime Minister’s call for drunken revellers who snarl up A&E  with self-inflicted injuries, to be charged for medical treatment.  Administering such a charge may well be too problematic, but the sentiment is well-placed.

Yes, Minister.

Thank God for Gerry’s “media missile”. Without it, we’d still be in the dark that the city council’s consenting process was in major schtook. The culture of secrecy and the failure of senior staff to inform the council’s governance arm of the ‘intention to revoke” letter has all too familiar echoes of a Yes, Minister script. Meanwhile, in stark contrast to the CCC fiasco, Waimakariri continues  to be the recovery’s pace-maker and standard-bearer. The district council’s consenting process, swamped with unprecedented and unwavering demand, has steadfastly remained on top of the job. 98% of consent applications are processed within 20 working days, with the average turnaround taking 9-10 days.

Polar plunge.

With winter’s darkest days now in force, a little comfort food sure helps warm the coldest of cockles. Ice cream is probably not the most logical seasonal sweetener, but I have to confess that my winter weakness is a regular hit of hot custard and Tip Top candy-floss ice cream.  Nutritious? No. Electrifying? Yes.

( First published in The Press, June 19.)

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