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‘Confusing’ rules force pubs to close early

‘Confusing’ rules force pubs to close early
Methven's Blue Pub is one of the venues impacted by conflicting policy, with the its outdoor area required to close by 12 despite having a license to open until 2am.

A "confusing" alfresco dining rule is forcing some pubs to close early, but council wants to fix the problem.

Currently, pubs and bars with a license to occupy the footpath have to close their outdoor areas earlier than their business's closing time.

However, Ashburton District Council has signalled this week they will fix the problem after it was raised during consultation for the local alcohol policy (LAP).

Presenting the Methven Community Board submission last month, chairperson Kelvin Holmes said if it was too hard for the pubs to keep the patrons in the controlled licensed area because of the laws, bylaws, and policies “then it’s plainly not working”.

“Bar owners are shutting early because it’s too hard and confusing.

“If the pubs are closing early, the problem goes somewhere else,” Holmes said.

Several submissions from the Methven community raised the issue, specifically referring to The Blue Pub.

The pub’s on-licence allows it to stay open till 2am, but the separate footpath trading hours made it difficult to stay open late due to the outdoor seating area closing at 12am.

The conflicting policies also affected Kelly’s and Cleavers Corner in Ashburton.

After deliberating on the feedback, councillors proposed making two changes to the policy.

The maximum trading hours of the footpath area would be extended from 12am (midnight) to 1am.

A distinction would also be removed between ‘Ashburton urban’ and ‘all other areas’ for the one-way door restriction at 1am.

Council staff asked the affected businesses about the changes.

The Blue Pub said the current rules around trading hours had been difficult and they welcomed the potential changes.

Due to those proposed changes, the revised draft Local Alcohol Policy will go out for a second consultation from September 27 to October 25.

Councillor Carolyn Cameron said the updated draft and second round of consultation “is a clear illustration of a council listening to submitters and the community”.

By Jonathan Leask