Press Release – Auckland Council
A dramatic drop in alcohol-related incidents and a new way to get home safely after a night out in Auckland’s city centre are key legacies of the Mayoral Taskforce on Alcohol and Community Safety.
Auckland Council is preparing to rollout a pilot scheme in partnership with Co-Op taxis for a capped or fixed fare system to help get people home from the city centre. The system will operate during specific hours on specific nights and use a swipe card with a pre-pay option.
The council has obtained funding for an initial rollout of 10,000 cards from the Health Promotion Agency (HPA). The scheme is supported by the hospitality industry and will be in place before Christmas.
The taxi scheme is the latest initiative from the taskforce action plan which has seen liquor ban breaches and other anti-social incidents in the city centre plummet by 50 per cent, and more than 90 per of off-licence outlets in the area voluntarily withdraw single serve drinks from sale.
“All the members of the taskforce have worked together to decrease alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and increase safety in central Auckland so people feel safe while enjoying entertainment and hospitality, and coming and going from their homes and jobs,” says Mayor Len Brown.
“It has been a real collaboration with a positive impact greater than the sum of its parts and the results show what the community can achieve together with goodwill and the existing regulatory tools we have. Communities will have more tools to limit alcohol-related harm once the government passes the Alcohol Reform Bill.”
Formed by Len Brown in June, the taskforce was made up of key stakeholders, including the council, police and hospitality industry representatives, to urgently address alcohol and safety issues within Auckland’s central city.
Since then, council staff and police worked closely with the private owners of car parks and other premises identified as popular ‘pre-loading’ hot spots. Landowners agreed to implement private liquor bans and let police trespass anyone drinking in these spots.
Lighting has also been improved in these areas. As a result, police report a significant decrease in pre-loading behaviour.
New queue management protocols have been voluntarily adopted and introduced by many on-licence premises. Police report improved street behaviour around queues to bars, pubs and clubs as a result.
Auckland Council also increased its liquor licensing compliance team, which has now completed approximately 342 compliance checks in both on and off licenced premises in the central city, with a compliance rate of approximately 94 per cent.
“It has been great to get in a room with the key stakeholders and share ideas,” says Hospitality NZ Regional Manager Nadine Melhopt. “We’re pleased that the taskforce has also targeted things that can make a significant difference, like lighting on streets and in carparks, pre-loading, improved communication, greater visibility of street patrols, rather than just focusing on licence holders.”
Ms Melhopt says Hospitality NZ has brought together a group of key inner-city licensees to meet regularly and discuss further voluntary measures to help reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.
The Mayoral Taskforce will now pass its ongoing programme of work to Auckland Council’s Community Safety Forum.
Ongoing work and new initiatives include working with Hospitality NZ on a code of conduct for on and off licensed premises; investigating more door staff violence-control training in conjunction with the police and Rape Prevention Education; and options for increased communication and information exchange between premises.
The Mayor also continues to advocate for the government to progress the Alcohol Reform Bill and reduce delays so that local communities can have more say in the regulation of alcohol in their areas through Local Alcohol Policies (LAPs).
Auckland Council is also undertaking research into what drives the night-time economy in the city centre. That research will contribute towards the development of further action to deal with alcohol related issues, improving the amenity of the area for everyone and informing the area’s LAP, once the legislation allows that to take effect.
“The bill is the single-most important factor in giving the council and local communities greater control over the impact of alcohol in their areas, including limiting liquor licences around schools, protecting public places and managing opening hours.”