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At the recent quarterly Licensing Court the Sergeant of Police reported on the manner in which the licensed houses were conducted, which report in the main was satisfactory. He, however, tools occasion in that report to point out instances re quiring the attention of the Commisgioners. One of them was a hotel which he alleged had been made the rendezvous of dissipated men, not that these men congregated in the house, but round about it,andsome time ago, a man had died drunk in the near vicinity of the house. The Commissioners refused to pay any attention to this part of the report, and announced their intention of dealing only with complaints that were founded on cases already heard in the R.M. Court. They would not listen to a report which said a house was the centre of attraction for drunken men, unless a charge to that effect had been substantiated under the Act, and they denied their power to punish an offender. The Commissioners are of course entitled to grant or refuse licenses as may seem fit to them, and they may accept or reject evidence as to the character of a house. But when they assign a reason for their conduct, that reason is open to criticism. With the particular case in which they refused to hear the sergeant’s complaints we are not now dealing, and are quite willing to allow that they were perfectly justified m not taking any action ; but we would point out a case reported in the “ Press of Wednesday in connection with the sitting of the Rangiora Bench, in which a similar report to that of the sergeant was at least received. The paragraph we quote runs as follows In reference to the complaint of the police against the licensee of the Red Lion Hotel, Mr. Greeson, who appeared, hoped the Commissioners would not be influenced by the vague accusations of the police to the effect that drunken men had been seen about, for the best proof that they had been so seen would have been their conviction before the Bench. The hotel was one of the best conducted in town, and it was unfair that the licensee should be complained of. The chairman pointed out that the licensee must be held responsible for the proper order of his house and premises, and warned him not to allow drunken persons to remain about. This shows at all events that the sergeant was not stepping out of the bounds of custom when he reported that drunken men congregated near a licensed house, and it shows certainly a strange want of uniformity when such a report can be accepted in one place and not in another. We can easily fancy a house conducted in a very questionable fashion, and yet the licensee be able to escape a conviction before a Resident Magistrate.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 76, 20 March 1880

Word Count

LICENSING. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 76, 20 March 1880