Joe Hendren

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Inner city drinking bans solve nothing

Wellington City Council intends to impose a 24 hour ban on drinking in public in the central city. Apparently Wellington is the only main centre that has not implemented this knee jerk good for nothing measure. What a shame they feel the need to follow suit.

The WCC and the police claim they need to ban everyone from consuming alcohol in order to deal with a small handful of 'drunk vagrants'. But there is a much more appropriate charge already on the statue books - its called drunk and disorderly. The mere fact the WCC and the police are asking for greater powers suggests said vagrants are not being disorderly enough in order to be charged. So the real crime committed by the vagrants appears to be their existence.

Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast and local business claim the vagrants put Wellington's position as a 'tourist destination' at risk. Yet places like London and Rome get many more tourists than Wellington - they also have many more visible 'vagrants' (I say this partly in jest)

Apparently the measure has been pushed by inner city businesses and bar owners, who do seem to have a habit of assuming public spaces ought really to controlled like their own private spaces. The major winner out of an inner city drinking ban are bar owners. Why do I suspect such a ban will lead to higher drink prices in said establishments?

A couple of friends of my brother were caught by a similar alcohol ban in Christchurch. They were forced to go through diversion for the crime of sharing a single can of beer while they went outside for some fresh air. They also faced a night in 'the cells'. Stupid, ridiculous and disproportionate.

A few years ago I heard there was a real shortage of short term emergency accommodation for men in Wellington. I can't imagine there has been a significant improvement in this problem. For what reasons are these 'vagrants' on the streets? Sadly it appears asking questions like this would be far too much like dealing with the real issue for the WCC. Cheap and nasty political expedience wins the day.

Good on Iona Pannett for being the sole councillor to oppose this silly ban.

Shame on Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Ngaire Best, Stephanie Cook, Jo Coughlan, Andy Foster, Leonie Gill, Rob Goulden, Ian McKinnon, John Morrison, Bryan Pepperall, Celia Wade-Brown, Hayley Wain. Lets hope some of these councillors come off the bandwagon moonshine and come to their senses.

Information on how to make a submission on the proposed bylaw is here. Submissions close 8th May 2008.

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