The Waikato District Council’s “interactive” tour around the district – to “stimulate discussion and debate” with the community to help draft two new alcohol and gambling policies – was started in Raglan earlier this week.

The Waikato District Council says that it’s all part of the Council’s “community driven approach” to developing new policies in the district and Monday’s meeting, in the town hall, was the first in a series of five, around the Waikato District, to be conducted by the Council.

The meeting was attended by local residents, police, community group representatives and included representatives from Tauranga-based organisation the Problem Gambling Foundation.

Problem Gambling Foundation manager Eru Loach said the meeting would be a “great opportunity to make sure our communities are well informed.”

Community feedback, as a result of the meetings, would be considered in the policy making process in conjunction with results from two surveys conducted by Council, in July 2013, regarding the policy changes.

The 2013 surveys attracted only 88 responses in total, forcing the Council to approach Waikato communities on the two policies – the Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) and the Gambling Venues Policy.

The first of the two policies discussed at the meeting was the LAP, which related to the sale and supply of alcohol. It would give guidelines when considering alcohol licences applications.

He said that the introduction of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, which replaced the Sale of Liquor Act 1989, gave power to the Council to develop LAPs which, once adopted, would be considered by the District Licensing Committee (DLC) and the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) when making decisions on new license applications.

It would also have some effect on existing licenses, he said.
The number of alcohol licences in the Waikato District, at July 2014, was 142. These included on-licences, off-licences and club licences.

Mr MacCulloch said that the feedback sought, for the LAP, included alcohol-related issues, appropriate number of licensed premises, capping limits and proximity to sensitive facilities.

The second policy in discussion was the Gambling Venues Policy for the Waikato district which would be governed by two legislations – the Gambling Act 2003, which controls the growth of gambling, and the Racing Act 2003, which provides governance for the racing industry.

Currently, the Waikato district has two differing gambling policies, relating to gaming machines, which cover the original Waikato district and the former Franklin district.
Council planned to merge the two districts under one Gambling Venues Policy, Mr MacCulloch said.
The Waikato policy is a population ratio policy which limits the number of gaming machines to a population ratio of one machine per 200 adult population. The Franklin policy is an unrestricted policy meaning new gaming machine venues may be established in that area, he said.

The new policy would affect whether or not class 4 gambling – ‘pokies’ – or TAB Board venues – agencies for TAB – may be established in the district and, if so, where they may be located.
The Waikato district currently has 19 licenced venues with a total of 246 gaming machines being operated.

The Council is also considering, as part of the new policy, the introduction of a relocation policy – to allow current licence holders to move venue.

Those who attended the meeting were encouraged to give feedback using Council’s interactive posters – where they placed a sticky-dot where they thought policy should be.

Mr MacCulloch said people who couldn’t attend the meeting were encouraged to fill in feedback forms, found on the Council’s website, and get them back in to the Council.

“We want to stimulate discussion and debate.
“That’s what we need to create good policy.”

Marcia Ahern
Council-Meeting