22 May 2015

Bars feel effect of early closing

6:29 am on 22 May 2015

New early closing times for bars in the Waimakariri District have already cost jobs as bars notice a downturn in their customers.

Since last weekend the have had to close at 11pm, apart from on Fridays and Saturdays when they can serve drinks until 1am.

A spokesperson for a Rangiora bar, who asked not to be named, said his operation had had to let two workers go because of a downturn in patronage.

Some of his customers were now traveling to neighbouring districts where bars are allowed to stay open later.

Others were staying home and drinking which he said would cause more problems for the police.

"At least it's controlled drinking in the bar, whereas at home - uncontrolled drinking, uncontrolled parties. It's going to be a worry for Rangiora."

The bar had already been refused a special licence to stay open late for next week's State of Origin rugby league match.

"We got told the State of Origin doesn't qualify for a special licence. I thought it was a special event.

"We've had people ask about State of Origin and I've said, 'well sorry, you can probably watch the first half, and then I've got to close'."

Co-owner of the Plough Hotel Luke Grice said it was granted a licence to stay open late for the league match but the process was "quite involved."

"Giving them a copy of our menu and our floor plan and host responsibility stuff - they've got all of that on file anyway."

Mr Grice said having to close 11pm would cut short social events such as darts and poker nights, and would be bad for business.

"It feels kind of like we're letting the customers down sometimes, I guess, if we take their money but then kick them out, especially that time of night when they're having coffees and desserts."

Waimakariri mayor David Ayers said police and health authorities made strong submissions in favour of the changes and the council listened to all views in coming up with the new rules.

"There are late night issues in all communities in New Zealand, and Waimakariri will be no different. So controlling the hours of opening will help with that.

"I'm absolutely certain we have the backing of the majority of our community in this matter."

Mr Ayers said he was not aware of any bars having an issue with 11pm closing during the week.

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