Nightclub operators hit back

Byron Bay nightclub operators have hit back at a call from Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham for a trial 1am ‘lock out’ of licensed premises.

Byron Bay Liquor Accord spokesman Gary Charles, representing late-night venues, said members were ‘bewildered’ as to why the mayor would push for a special resolution instead of consulting with the accord.

“Byron Shire Council is a member of the accord and the very idea of setting up accords throughout NSW is local solutions for local problems,” he said.

“At the most recent accord meeting in March – which the mayor did not attend – a council representative had the opportunity to address accord members and did not mention a 1am curfew.”

 Mr Charles said Byron Bay already had a voluntary 2am curfew that all accord members agreed to seven years ago in consultation with local police.

 He said there had been no push by the local licensing officer to put the curfew back to 1am.

Additionally, accord members already had self-imposed restrictions on shots, doubles, jagerbombs and rounds of drinks for large groups after certain times through the night, he said.

Mr Charles said perhaps the council could look at improving the horrible state of street lighting in the CBD, support the implementation of CCTV, support late night transport options and better regulate the council-imposed alcohol-free zones to limit street drinking.

He said he would be contacting the mayor to invite her to the next accord meeting in June and ask that she not waste valuable council time ‘pushing her own political agenda’.

Cr Barham has called for the trial ‘lock out’ in a bid to curb alcohol-related violence in the town.

She plans to move a notice of motion at next Thursday’s council meeting which will seek State Government approval for the trial.

Byron Bay had a problem with alcohol-related violence which reflected badly on the town, she said.

Cr Barham’s push for the trial comes after a call by a coalition of emergency workers, including the Police Association, for tough new restrictions on alcohol trading.

The success of restrictions on licensed premises at Newcastle, including a 1am ‘lock out’ and resulting in a 29 per cent drop in assaults after dark, was cited as a reason to extend the restrictions statewide.

Sergeant Steve Martin, the Byron Bay Police Association representative, said he fully supported a 1am ‘lock out’ which would help police in reducing alcohol-related crime.

“Clearly what is happening in Newcastle shows it works,” he said. “It keeps people off the street.”

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