Byron Council has unanimously supported a trial 1am ‘lock out’ of licensed premises at Byron Bay in a bid to curb alcohol-related violence, but it now will be up to the State Government to determine if the trial goes ahead.
Mayor Cr Jan Barham, who pushed for the trial aimed at stopping people roaming from venue to venue after 1am, is hopeful the government and the Byron Bay Liquor Accord will support it for the benefit of the whole community.
But the accord has already indicated it opposed the trial with president Luke Thomas questioning whether it would have any impact on late-night crime.
Cr Barham based her call for a 1am ‘lock out’ on the success of a similar trial at Newcastle which reportedly resulted in a big drop in assaults after dark.
She told last Thursday’s council meeting that one of the most important things a tourist destination like Byron Bay could offer was ‘safety’, a key issue when it came to attracting the ‘right sort of visitor’.
The reality was that there were people who feared for their safety when on the streets of the town at 2 am, she said.
The trial ‘lock out’ was a step forward in making Byron Bay a safer place.
Cr Barham said dealing with alcohol-related crime was one of the most important issues for the town and she had received widespread support for the trial.
“The best and most important message we can send out is we are doing everything we can for the safety of the whole community,” she said.
Cr Diane Woods said she hoped the trial would make a difference.
She didn’t expect it would have any impact on the turnover at licensed premises at Byron Bay.
Cr Simon Richardson said the trial wouldn’t close any venue and signalled an intent by the community to reclaim the streets.
The trial ‘lock out’ has been backed by local emergency service workers who have commended the council for its action in fighting alcohol-related violence and crime.
NSW Police Association vice-president, Scott Weber, said there was impressive evidence that by simply reducing the trading hours of licensed premises, there was a significant reduction in alcohol-related assaults. Mr Weber said more councils should take a stance against the affects of ‘boozed-fuelled violence’ in their area.
The association’s Northern Region executive member, Tony King, said industry self-regulation wasn’t working.
Mr King said the Byron Bay Liquor Accord thought voluntary curfews, self-imposed restrictions on shots and limiting group shouts at the discretion of the bartender were good enough.
“Not for police and not for the nurses, ambos and doctors that have to clean up the mess,” he said.
“We want people to be able to visit Byron, to go out at night and have a good time.
“Unfortunately, it takes more than voluntary restrictions to make sure that happens.
“That’s why we are commending Byron Shire Council for standing up to the hotel industry bullies and putting the health and safety of their residents and visitors first.”
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