Object to proposed liquor laws by tomorrow

Owners of restaurants  pubs and outlets where liquor is sold, are reminded to get their objections to the proposed new liquor laws to the Kouga Municipality by tomorrow.

Failure to object could see the proposed changes to the liquor laws being promulgated after 15 December.

More than 30 owners of pubs, restaurants and bottle stores in Kouga attended a meeting about new proposed liquor trading bylaws.

Representatives from Council presented a draft law in to attendees in an attempt to gauge feedback from the community. St Francis Bay pub owners and restaurateurs have since complained they were unaware of the meeting and had not been informed.
At the meeting Kouga Council representatives presented a draft bylaw. They were asked to give reasons for wanting to change the national liquor trading hours. There are currently three levels of trading: national, provincial and municipal liquor licensing hours.

. Some of the hours proposed in the new law are a reduction from 8 to 6 for bottle stores, closure of bottle stores on Sunday , plus pubs and restaurants to close at  11 pm on Sundays.

It is also proposed that B&Bs, guesthouses, pubs, cabins, restaurants and places of entertainment operate from 11 am to 11pm in local business centres and in residential areas from 11 am till midnight.

There are many other regulations. The representatives were unable to provide reasons fro the proposed changes.
Those at the meeting asked for time to go over the proposal and submit objections or changes. A deadline of 15 November has been given and these must be submitted to ttom@kouga.gov.za. It has been proposed that these new laws be adopted by 15 December 2012.

Following the meeting St Francis Bay pub owners said they were upset they were not notified by the municipality about the meeting. They say they will have plenty of objections. One or two were quite explicit on what the Council could do with their proposals.

Previous attempts to impose stringent opening and closing hours in St Francis has met with fierce opposition. The issue was thrown out of court once. Owing to this failed attempt in a court case some time ago, most organisations adopt the national laws to close by 2 am, which has been the local accepted norm.

Mark Christie from Christies’ Catch and Cobs Cove says: “None of us even knew about the meeting. From season to season during the year we close at 11 pm but in season we only have three weeks to provide entertainment for the visitors. Every year close to season they try changing the by-laws. 

“The local shebeens operate till all hours and nobody bothers them because enforcers of these laws are too scared to go into the locations. Our main time for business is those three weeks over season and that carries us for the whole year ahead.”

Warren Manser of St Francis Tourism says: “Closure of pubs at 11 pm over the festive season is ridiculous. St Francis is a Tourist destination. South African or International businesses in St Francis only have a peak season of 4 weeks once a year. 
“ Youngsters with no pubs and bars to go to in season will create a huge problem. This will force the younger generation and their parents to go to other towns next year where pubs and bars stay open until late.

“Youngsters don’t go the bed at 11 pm so closing the bars and pubs so early will force these kids to walk the street of St Francis and drink in public and on the beaches. Can you imagine what this will do to St Francis? 

“This is a festive time of year so our pubs and bars need to be able to offer the services to our visitors and be able to stay open most certainly past 11 pm.” 

A statement from the municipality to St Francis Chronicle said: “The Liquor Trading Hours by-law has not yet been approved and can still be changed. The importance of a thorough public participation process regarding the by-laws was stressed at the Speaker at a recent Council meeting. 

The municipality is now busy with this process, as advertised in a local newspaper, the municipal website and on noticeboards. 
“On request of stakeholders who attended the two public meetings that were held, the municipality will be extending the deadline for public comments. Further public meetings are also being planned to accommodate those affected parties who could not attend the first round of meetings. These meetings will be held in all wards. The dates are still to be finalised.”

Commenting in his personal capacity Peter Bridges says: “In a society that is begging for growth, for businesses that are desperately trying to survive and would love to grow so as to employ people, for a community that wants to sustain a level of survival that is reasonable, it’s just unbelievable that the Kouga Council, can get it so wrong.

“Why does the insanity of trying to stop things or make things so hard for small business to survive, continue from the desks of the Council? Why on earth would the Council attempt to institute such a bylaw as the one proposed?
“What is wrong with the proposed legislation?
“* The council for whatever reason want it through, without justification, motivation or reason. Surely, if there was a positive constructive reason for this they would have got together all parties that could be affected and discussed it with them, published it appropriately, so everyone knew what was behind the proposal of this bylaw – it’s called communication!

“* They are trying to stop one of the sectors of business profiting in the only window we as a holiday destination have to actually make money, in order to survive the year. Well if it goes through, guess what, there won’t be many visitors next year in our region!

“* And finally the target of this law is small businesses. Small businesses cannot survive all the red tape, all the complex laws, all the ridiculous restraints and conditions applied, make a profit, employ people, and then be expected to prosper. It’s just not possible.”

“Kouga Council please think about this and if you are serious – speak to all parties concerned, not only in SFB and CSF but also Sea Vista, and all the other Kouga regions. “

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