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March 1, 2010 | by  | in News |
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District’s derelicts decry defenestration

Translation: Winos not welcome in Public

Drinking alcohol could soon be illegal in all of Wellington’s public spaces after a citywide liquor ban was proposed last month.

Social Portfolio leader Councillor Ngaire Best’s proposal suggests implementing a citywide liquor ban to combat what Best referred to as “extreme anti-social behaviour”.

Councillors on the Committee were quick to discourage the idea that the police will indiscriminately arrest anyone drinking in public.

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendegast says she believes the police will use their discretion in response to the suggestion such a ban would stop the average Wellingtonian from enjoying drinking quietly and responsibly in public spaces.
“That’s not the kind of behaviour we are trying to stop.”

Exactly who the ban was targeting was heavily debated at a council meeting held last week. Tom White from the Newtown Wesley Community Action centre questioned why the NZI Sevens was acceptable, referring to it as an “organised piss-up”, and yet “a group of poor folk organise such traction”.

Councillor Andy Foster also cautioned others at the meeting about the perceived hypocrisy of the Council who are “condemning fringe disadvantaged groups” drinking on the streets, while at the same time when it comes to alcohol-laden events such as the Sevens, “we not only endorse that, we promote it”.

The proposal also included alternative options of simply leaving the current inner city ban in place, or implementing a liquor ban in the alleged problem area of Newtown.

Councillors and members of the public were divided over whether the problems surrounding public intoxication are issues that are affecting all of Wellington, or if the problem is restricted to Newtown and surrounding suburbs.

Councillor Best suggested that when drinking bans are restricted to certain areas, displacement of the problem takes place “so it becomes a citywide issue”.

Shortly before the proposal was voted on by the Committee­—with Councillor Iona Pannett the only dissenting vote—Councillor Foster closed with comments echoing the concerns of members of the public at the meeting, and other Councillors saying that to truly address the wide-ranging problems of alcohol abuse in the public sphere “we need a holistic approach… my fear is that after this we’ll say we’ve done our bit”.

Public submissions on the proposal open on 30 April.

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