It's this simple: any change to Auckland City Council liquor laws that forces the King's Arms tavern to close at 11pm, as a "suburban" bar, is fundamentally misconceived and ridiculous. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the CitRat-controlled council is proposing.
The King's Arms has been on its site in France Street, Newton, since 1880. The use of the land around it has changed over time – most notably through the construction of the motorway interchange on whose edge the tavern perches – but it's basically commercial and light industrial. The pub itself has been a live music venue for decades.
A developer did build some sad-looking apartments across the car park from the King's Arms in the 1990s – obliging the venue's owners to build a huge wall to bat back sound – but it is by no stretch of the imagination suburban. It's 30 seconds' walk from Upper Queen Street, for goodness sake. Meanwhile, Mission Bay is to be declared an "entertainment zone" with late licences. WTF?
The other venues that stand to be affected by the proposals don't present quite as silly a picture as the King's Arms designation, but some of them come close. Look at the location of The Landing in Onehunga. It's perched on the harbour side of SH20, opposite a light industrial zone. The nearest residential property is one or two kilometres away. It's also available for private event hire – and if it can't stay open past midnight, its owner doesn't really have a business.
The councillor responsible, Aaron Bhatnagar, seemed unrepentant in the paper today:
[Update See a response from Cr Bhatnagar in the discussion for this post]
But city development committee chairman Aaron Bhatnagar said it was important the liquor licensing policy reflected community needs.
"For this policy to work, initial feedback has emphasised that we must balance access to alcohol with keeping the community safe," he said.
The council carried out research which found residents believed central Auckland should be treated differently from the suburbs and the policy should reward good licensees.
I accept that it's a legitimate role of the council to control the spread of licensed premises in residential areas, and to determine that late or 24-hour licences are inappropriate in many places. But what's being proposed simply defies good sense – especially given that comes from people who have long been fond of bleating about the "nanny state".
I had no time to write a blog post yesterday, between a morning shift MCing the Digital Now seminar, voicing a track for this week's Media7 (about the rather bleak departure of TV chef Keith Floyd) and introducing last night's launch of Graham Reid's new book The Idiot Boy Who Flew (buy now from Public Address Books) at Sale St's lovely Velvet Room.
So please accept this rather belated invitation to join us for the Media7 recording tonight in at TVNZ. The show looks at cover of the Emissions Trading Scheme with Pattrick Smellie (with others tbc – it's been that kind of week); the media's treatment of women in politics with Deborah Coddington and Margie Comrie; and the ever-expanding empire of Great Southern Television, via an interview with its founder, Phil Smith.
If you'd like to join us, we'd need you there between 5pm and 5.30. Hit "reply" and let me know.
PS: I'm delighted to welcome Mr Jose Barbosa to the Media7 team. Jose started with week on putting together set-up tracks for our panel discussions – freeing up Simon Pound to range more widely as our reporter.