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Club could need a plan B after alcohol appeal

An early decision has been promised in an appeal against the decision of the District Licensing Committee to grant a licence to Gisborne Speedway Club outside the hours in the local alcohol policy.

But the club was warned to have a “plan B” in place for its December 22 meeting.

Judge K.D. Kelly was speaking after hearing legal argument in an appeal by chief district licensing inspector Judith Robertson against a decision of the Licensing Committee to grant the club trading hours beyond the maximum set in the local alcohol policy.

The authority reserved its decision.

After listening to submissions from counsel, Judge Kelly said he was conscious of the fact that this was the middle of the speedway season.

The authority should be able to get a decision out early next week, certainly before Christmas.

But in answer to a question from speedway club counsel Neil Weatherhead as to when the decision would apply, he said he would advise the club to have a “plan B” for that meeting.

The legal argument centred on whether to district licensing committee had the authority to grant hours beyond those set in the local alcohol policy.

Counsel for the licensing inspector Alastair Sherriff said the committee was trying to help a local organisation. But the relevant sections of the act did not give the committee the power to go beyond those hours set in the local alcohol policy.

Mr Weatherhead said the policy truncated the hours available to the club. Sometimes racing might not stop until 10.30 and it might take some time to tidy up if there had been crashes.

The operation of the bar was a benign event that allowed club members to relax after racing.

He submitted there was a lot of discretion for the committee contained in the act.

In response, Mr Sherriff said a crucial part of the legislation was that it gave communities the power to decide what was best for their area.

It was up to the speedway club to persuade the local authority to change its policy. There was precedent for that.