Keep Discovering

The Press-News column Sep 2

Let’s party, but responsibly.

With the 4th anniversary of our natural disaster on the doorstep, the re-creation of the central city finally has a spring in its step. 2014 is proving to be the circuit-breaker year. For night-owls, a tangible semblance of momentum is crystallising within the city core, with fresh pockets of light, laughter and verve bursting through the canvas of beleagured blackness.  Boasting five new venues, Stranges Lane is one of the destinations du jour in the heart of the city, but it continues to get a hammering on social media over its “preferred patron policy.”  Some bars are limiting access to patrons  over 20, in swift response to the insatiable interest and  billowing weekend queues.  But the protesting cries of age discrimination, running rampant on social media, are pointless. Various Christchurch hospitality outlets in Christchurch have previously deployed a similar minimum age limit policy, including Geoff Cavell at Winnie Bagoes, upon reopening.  And some operators will play “older” music to deter the kiddie crowd.  As any twenty or thirty something will distinctly recall about the pre-quake Oxford Tce “strip”, its biggest blight was the heaving hordes of drunk and under-age teens, who would not only loiter around the street spoiling for a fight, but would try all manner of tactics to infiltrate the venues.  Curmudgeon Mike thinks that until we get serious about binge-drinking, the kiddie crowd breeds trouble. In conversation with the Canterbury boss of Hospitality New Zealand, Peter Morrison points out that last year’s law changes to liquor licensing , has thrust a heap more responsibility on venue operators to  ensure their bars are free of drunks and minors. Peter is confident that as more central city venues open, the overwhelming queues outside the likes of Stranges Lane, will dissipate. But when are we going to get real about tackling the blight of binge drinking and individual responsibility? Alcohol-related hospital admissions cost our health board $80 million in the past year. Why should the taxpayer foot the bill for binge-drinkers snarling up the Emergency Department with their self-inflicted injuries and fight wounds? Let’s unleash an abuser-pays approach and reinstate the summary offence of being drunk in public. I note that the Royal College of Nurses is supporting the roll-out of private drunk-tanks in Britain. Their members are fed up dealing to the hordes of young, violent and abusive drunks who gridlock A&E every weekend.   To unclog city hospitals, non-life threatening cases will be dispatched  to a user-pays drunk tank. Perhaps the Bealey Medical Centre  would be the prime site for such a facility in Christchurch.

Mike’s weekly current affairs column, as first published on September 2.




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