Last drinks plan under scrutiny
IT WAS standing room only at the Last Drinks at 12 sponsored forum on Saturday afternoon at the Byron Community Centre.
Last Drinks at 12 are a local, independent community organisation pushing for the cessation of the service of alcohol in all premises in Byron Bay after midnight.
Early in proceedings Detective Senior Constable Tony King from the Police Association summed up the mood of the meeting when he said,
"Nothing good happens after midnight when alcohol is involved."
Many were there to hear from Tony Brown, the community leader behind a successful campaign to address alcohol-related violence in Newcastle.
He emphasised the need for evidence-based solutions to the problem but said he was concerned for communities like Byron Bay who he felt were being deprived of a solution by the State Government.
"They (State Government) seem to be more interested in appeasing the powerful grog industry rather than adopting sensible solutions," he said.
"The office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) is also politicised and not demonstrating the independence and accountability that the Police Association expects from such a body."
Last drinks at 12 presented a four point plan to the meeting involving the reduction in late night trading hours, the formation of a Byron Bay Precinct Liquor Accord with compulsory membership and a freeze on the granting of extended Trading Liquor Licences. They also want to limit the supply of high strength drinks and prohibit the harmful discounting and promotion of alcohol at on-licence and off-licence premises in Byron Bay.
Organiser Chris Hanley encouraged attendees to sign a letter of support for the organisation and its measures.
Also at the meeting was Hannah Spalding from the Byron Bay Liquor Accord who said her group had similar goals to the Last Drinks at 12 in reducing street violence.
"We are the only group apart from Police who have taken on this issue to date," she said.
"Police have indicated to us that the initial results from our voluntary measures have been positive," she said.
Byron Bay Mayor Simon Richardson said he supported most of what the Last Drinks group were proposing but thought the midnight drinks ban was too much.
"Council has just applied for $500,000 for extra lighting, shuttle buses and education programs as well receiving $50,000 for extra taxi ranks," he said.
"Along with the 1am lockout, I think we should trial these measures before we move to any midnight ban on the service of alcohol."