Council presses for 1am 'lock-out'

Byron Council is pressing Byron Bay pubs and clubs for a response to a proposed 2am closing trial and a 1am ‘lock-out’ in a bid to cut alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.

Mayor Cr Jan Barham said the council had written to the Byron Bay Liquor Accord several months ago seeking its views on a ‘lock-out’ which would stop drinkers entering licensed premises after 1am.

Cr Barham said that as there had been no response, she had again written to the accord last month urging members to consider the initiatives and to consider what they could do to ensure the reputation of the town and public safety.

However, with Byron Bay nightclubs already seeking an extension of hours from the existing 3am to 4am, the council may come up against a brick wall.

That application, lodged with the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) last year and opposed by the council, is yet to be determined, with the OLGR website showing it is still under consideration.

At its latest meeting, the council voted to place its draft liquor licensing policy on public exhibition and seek comment from the community, the liquor accord and police.

The main thrust of the policy is to oppose any extension of opening hours past 1am for any new liquor licence applications.

A report to the council said the introduction of the Liquor Act 2007 had significantly restricted opportunities for councils to object to new liquor licence applications.

It said since its enactment, liquor licence applications in the shire had more than doubled.

At about the same time the new liquor laws were being enacted, police reported increases in anti-social behaviour, including vandalism and property damage, violence, crime and alcohol-related injury at Byron Bay.

Cr Barham said the council was aware of the concerns of the local community in relation to alcohol consumption and operating hours at Byron Bay.

She said the ‘notoriety’ that Byron Bay suffered when there were alcohol-related crimes or problems was ‘unfortunate’.

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Know your limits, look out for your mates and bring asthma puffers.