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Party bus operator seeks injunction over special licences

3 September 2008

A party bus operator has notified the Christchurch City Council that it intends to seek an injunction to force the Council to change its decision to no longer issue party bus operators with special licences.

Party bus operators have previously been issued month long special licences, which allowed for the consumption of alcohol on the bus. Bus operators have been allowing passengers to consume BYO alcohol on the buses, and it was the Council’s understanding that the special licence also covered this practise.

In July the Council sought legal opinion on whether the special licences were appropriate for the party buses, following concerns raised by the Police. The Council’s legal opinion found that the special licences were not appropriate as they did not cover BYO alcohol, which was the main manner in which alcohol was supplied.

A liquor licensing inspector has lodged an objection with the District Licensing Agency seeking a review of the appropriateness of the special licences. This review is scheduled for September 26. The Council has decided to stop issuing the special licences until that review is complete.

Party bus operators were given about six weeks notice of the decision to stop issuing the special licences, with the last valid special licences expiring on September 1.

Liquor Licensing Team Leader Paul Rogers says the Council is not stopping party buses from operating. He says there was enough warning of the changes to allow operators to consider their options and continue operating.

Mr Rogers says one of the options was for party bus operators to apply for an on-licence for a conveyance, but none have done so. He says another option is to continue to operate pub tours, but not allow people to drink on the bus in between stops.

Mr Rogers says the Council’s legal opinion left it with no option but to stop issuing special licences, and it stands by that opinion.

The hearing for an interim injunction is set down for 9.30am, on Thursday, September 4. The interim injunction seeks an order to extend the licences held by the company until the matter can have a substantive hearing later.

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