The liquor ban has lapsed in the New Plymouth CBD, and NPDC is set to consult on a new bylaw.
A lapsed drinking ban in the New Plymouth city centre has made it more difficult for police to deal with alcohol-related incidents, a report to district councillors says.
A brawl involving approximately 40 people was one of the worst incidents since lockdown and took place during a weekend that saw 13 arrests for disorderly behaviour, intentional damage or assaulting police, Wednesday’s extraordinary New Plymouth District Council meeting will be told.
“Since the end of the level 3 and 4 lockdowns earlier this year, there have been a number of alcohol-related incidents in public places in the CBD.
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“The expired Liquor Control Bylaw has made it more difficult for the police to deal with such incidents.”
With the support of police, councillors are being asked to start the process of bringing in a new bylaw and seek public feedback.
The previous bylaw expired on December 18, 2018, after the council failed to follow a law change, brought in five years previously, requiring existing alcohol control rules to be reviewed by that date or lapse.
While the change was noted in 2013 “changes in team members over the subsequent five years meant that this knowledge had been lost,” the report said.
The council only discovered the blunder in mid-March this year and told the police on March 26.
Police had been enforcing the lapsed ban up until then, the report said.
“The police have advised that only a few infringement offence notices were issued between 18 December 2018 and 26 March, 2020.
“Ultimately, it is the police who are responsible for determining what, if anything, might be done in relation to those notices.”
The report highlights a brawl in Gill St at 3am on July 11.
“All participants appeared to be heavily intoxicated and most had bottles in their hands, suggesting that at least some participants had likely been drinking outside licensed premises.
“The police saw several people who were watching the brawl, who appeared to be standing around their cars and drinking from bottles of alcohol.”
About 1.30am on July 19, police were called to a minor disorder on Devon St, which was under control when a large group of people left another bar.
“A brawl involving approximately 40 people then erupted,” the report said.
That weekend was “particularly problematic” the report said, highlighting the 13 arrests.
“This number of arrests is much higher than when the alcohol ban was being enforced.”
The police say there appears to be a marked increase in people drinking alcohol in their vehicles.
“There have been multiple examples of alcohol-related crime and disorder occurring since March 2020, when the police ceased to enforce the alcohol ban.
“These by themselves indicate that it is appropriate to reinstate the CBD alcohol ban,” the report said.
Doc van Praagh, owner of Crowded House, agreed the bylaw is needed.
“They’re better drinking in the licensed premises, where it’s controlled.”
The council is also planning to renew bans in Oakura (New Year’s Eve), Urenui (New Year’s Eve), Waitara (all year round), Mt Bryan, East End, and Fitzroy reserves (three nights a week over summer as well as Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) and most of Pukekura Park during the TSB Festival of Lights.
Stratford District Council also failed to carry out the Local Government Act review and currently has no enforceable alcohol bylaw.