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A 3am shut-down for K' Road?
By Matt Akersten
11th July 2008 - 09:00 am

K' Road: All out at 3am?
Auckland's gay hotspots would be forced to close at 3am every night if a Police plan to get tough on violent crime is accepted by the council.

Telling the NZ Herald "nothing good happens after 3am," Senior Sergeant Ben Offner says the Police have requested to the Council for Auckland's licensed venues to be forced to close at 3am, and stop admitting new patrons after 1am. Patrons already inside would be able to stay there until closing time, they suggest. Off-license liquor outlets would be forced to close at 11pm.

Police Inspector Rob Abbott agrees, saying the situation on K' Road is of particular concern. Since the central business district is the only part of metropolitan Auckland with 24-hour licensing, K' Road is "a magnet" for people to continue drinking after outlets close in other areas, he explains.

If the request is accepted, Auckland's nightlife - and particularly its gay clubbing scene - would radically change. Similar council-enforced bar curfews are in place in other New Zealand cities including Hamilton and Christchurch.

Family bar: Busy after 1am
Family bar's busiest time is after 1am on Friday and Saturday nights. Their resident DJ Starli says she's seen curfews in place from working on Australia's Gold Coast, and knows they don't actually reduce crime. "Rules like this actually make the problem worse. Being forced to chuck everyone out at 3 o'clock means a whole bunch of people are out on the streets at that time with nowhere to go. And you'd get people binge drinking just before the bars close. I think it's a very bad idea."

K' Road's Kamo bar is normally finished around 1am each night, but their liquor licence allows them the serve drinks until 3am. "We don't get the all-night crowd," explains co-owner Loren Boothby. "But we know that violence is a problem late at night on K' Road. Some bars get a lot of trouble in the early hours, from people just drinking beer and playing the poker machines all night. So we see no problem with the police plan, but there should of course be exceptions for dance party events so people can still dance the night away."

Auckland City Mayor John Banks has been quick to reject the Police's curfew plan. "The police want us to shut the city down," he told the NZ Herald yesterday. "That's not going to happen. This is an international city."

Celebration Dance Party DJ Karl Hall has reacted strongly against the Police idea. "After spending the past twelve years as an active member of the hospitality/entertainment industry, this action would completely decimate the weekend nightlife marketplace in Auckland City and cause far more trouble and crime without doubt," he explains.

"I have DJ'd on many occasions in cities like Hamilton with such policies in place and trust me, come 3am, it's chaos! The streets turn crazy, people spill out of premises en-masse, taxis block the roads, cars tooting, traffic everywhere, intoxicated people milling round smoking, bumping into each other and next thing you know, riot!"

Hall's 'STOP the NZ Police from destroying our nightlife industry!' group on Facebook had over 300 members by 8am this morning.

What's your opinion on the Police's curfew idea? Let us know on the GayNZ.com Forum, linked below.



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