It actually seems almost impossible that 70 years ago prohibition was in place in the Clutha district.
I had forgotten the old stories from my father’s generation of carloads going through to the Henley pub to load up with booze and the antics they got up to on the way home.
Times have definitely moved on, and I applaud Steve Morris, the Clutha Licensing Trust chairman, for taking the lead and instigating the discussion about the district’s future social and entertainment needs.
It has been increasingly obvious in recent years that the present licensing trust system is challenged to meet the ever-changing needs of our communities.
It is not my intention to bag the trust, but rather to make a plea to everyone to take the opportunity to address some of these issues.
All our communities must look to the future and identify the fundamental needs of all age groups.
The trust plays an important role in attracting people to our district and provides a setting that is conducive to the vitality and responsible enjoyment of all.
The only long-term risk of job losses will be if the trust takes no action.
In fact, the recent changes down at the Kaitangata pub have actually increased employment.
Consultation feedback by council shows a desire from all sectors of our society for something more than what is presently available.
We hear the frustration from our young about the limited options to socialise.
I would have to say I am envious when I visit my brothers in Central Otago and see they have facilities actually attracting large numbers of my age group to get together and herald in the end of the working week or celebrate a special occasion.
To be one of the last areas to relent on prohibition showed both strengths and weaknesses in the way our district confronted this issue last time, and the environment back then most definitely resulted in the unintended consequence of fostering binge drinking.
It is now our generation’s challenge not to be blind to future needs because of the past.
What we do not want is the sale of establishments to people who lack the vision or financial ability to make necessary changes.
We will regret giving away control to private enterprise if the ensuing result is dilapidation and a draining of resources.
But working out how to avoid this is going to be extremely difficult.
We may all have ideas on what the needs are, but the devil will be in the detail, and I wish Steve and his team well as they work through the process and hope everyone embraces the discussion with an open mind, and an eye to the future.