Wanaka bar loses bid to stay open late

The first bar to challenge the Queenstown-Lakes District Council’s licensing laws has had its application rejected, after requesting permission to stay open until 4am on an ‘ad hoc’ basis. The application, made by Tullamore Springs Ltd. for Cork Bar on Helwick Street, was also opposed by members of the public, the police and the Medical Officer of Health.

Queenstown Lakes District Licensing Committee found that the opposition was based on potential increased harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption and that the move would have compromised the integrity of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

The ruling found that company director Jeremy Warnock said that while he didn’t plan on having the bar open every morning until 4am, he wanted to have the option to do so depending on how busy his bar was.

“He contended that the case was about his ‘right’ under the Act to be granted a licence until 4am,” the committee found. “He objected to the fact that premises in the Queenstown CBD could trade until 4am but not in Wanaka, which he felt was discrimination. He argued that there should be one rule for all premises in the Queenstown Lakes catchment.”

Senior constable Ian Henderson justified the police objection because there were no taxis in Wanaka beyond 4am and the police didn’t have the resources to patrol beyond midnight between Monday and Friday and after 3am on Saturday and Sunday.

Chair of the committee Judge Bill Unwin said that while the application was a “significant moment” in the town, he was ultimately underwhelmed by the result. He found that

“It seemed to us that the company did not accept that an extension of trading hours was a privilege and not a right, and that there would be corresponding responsibilities. In fairness to Mr Warnock, he finally recognised that there were issues that had not been covered and in his final submissions he did state that he would change his systems if the closing time was extended. In our opinion it was a case of too little, too late.”