Who can develop a Local Alcohol Policy?
Any local Council in New Zealand can develop a Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) to control the availability of alcohol in their district. Sections 75 – 97 of the Act cover these requirements.
Councils are not required to develop a policy.
Two or more local councils may work together on a joint policy.
What does a LAP include?
A LAP may include any, or all, of the following licensing matters:
- Broad areas where licensed premises can be located;
- The location of licences in proximity to other licences;
- The location of licences in close proximity to sensitive sites (e.g. schools);
- Whether further licences of any type can be granted;
- Trading hours for licences (e.g. opening and closing hour);
- Discretionary conditions for licences; and
- One-way door restrictions (i.e. when the doors close to prohibit no new customers, but allow those inside to remain drinking).
Each part of a policy is called an element. For example, the proposed trading hours for off-licences would be considered one element of a LAP. It is important that Councils have a separate element for each of the opening and closing hours of premises, to assist with appeals.
There are many stages in the Local Alcohol Policy process
The Council must follow the required process for developing its LAP. This means:
- Firstly, they must develop a draft policy having regard to a range of local information and factors (including levels of alcohol-related harm); and consult with Police, Inspectors and Medical Officers of Health.
- Then the draft policy must be released for public consultation using the special consultative procedure set out in the Local Government Act. A minimum of one month is usually given for consultation and submissions to be received.
- The Council then makes decisions on the policy as a result of the submissions it receives. The Council may choose to amend some or all of the elements in the draft policy as a result of public feedback.
- Then they must publicly notify the Provisional Local Alcohol Policy and the rights and grounds of appeal.
- Anyone who submitted on the Draft Local Alcohol Policy can appeal any element of the Policy, but they must do so within 30 days of the public notification.
- There is only one ground of appeal, and that is that the policy element is “unreasonable in light of the object of the Act”.
- Following the appeal period, the Council can either carry out negotiation with the appellants or they can proceed to a public hearing in front of the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority (ARLA).
- If the Council procedes to negotiate with those who are unhappy with the policy and comes to an agreement with the appellants, they can proceed to ARLA to request a consent order. This permits the Council to amend or delete the unreasonable elements. In the case where elements are amended, the amended policy is subject to a 30-day appeal period; only those that submitted on the Draft LAP can appeal. If there are no appeals to the amended policy, Council can proceed to adopt the policy. If there are appeals, negotiation or a hearing occurs.
- If a hearing takes place, ARLA will hear from all parties. Following the hearing, ARLA will issue their decision. If there are no elements found to be unreasonable, the Council can proceed to adopt its policy. If there are elements which are unreasonable, then the Council has the option of amending the policy elements or deleting them altogether. In the case where elements are amended, the amended policy is subject to a 30-day appeal period; only those that submitted on the Draft LAP can appeal. If there are no appeals to the amended policy, Council can proceed to adopt the policy. If there are appeals, negotiation or a hearing occurs.