On Monday the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) announced that it is only considering small changes to Newcastle CBD lockout conditions, following the release of the Horton Report. The decision does not sit well with many industry stakeholders.

As per the comments of the ILGA chair, Philip Crawford, the main lockout conditions will remain in place, including a 1am or 1:30am patron lockout, and a corresponding 2am or 2:30am closing time. Venues will still require a staff member to be employed from 11pm to solely supervise RSA, and the sale and supply of liquor must cease 30 minutes before end of trading.

ILGA’s decision has been met with disappointment and frustration from the Newcastle pub community which has gone to great lengths to improve the nightlife culture of the city in the last decade.

“Whilst we welcome small administrative changes to the 2008 restrictions, we are disappointed the ILGA-commissioned Horton Report has not been accepted by the Authority,” stated AHA NSW Newcastle and Hunter President Rolly De With.

“A decade on, ILGA is considering continuing with one-size-fits-all blanket measures, rather than accepting Dr Horton’s view that ‘Venues that demonstrate good practices and that pose a lower risk ought to enjoy less restrictive conditions than those which do not.’”

De With also pointed out the cultural and consumer expectations highlighted in the Horton Report that have been ignored by ILGA.

“The Horton Report also found ‘There is an expectation in the community that cocktails and spirits be available for sale after 10pm’ and that ‘My view is that there is a case for adopting the list I have mentioned so as to permit the sale and supply of spirits and cocktails after 10pm and until midnight.’”

Blake McCloy, co-director of the multiple award-winning Lucky Hotel, is bitterly disappointed with the decision to keep lockouts in place, and what that means for Newcastle’s nightlife.

“Newcastle has grown and come a long way in the past decade so it’s disappointing that L&GNSW will not be easing on the lockout conditions.

“Newcastle is a fantastic place – yet it seems we are still living in the dark ages with rigid restrictions that prevent businesses to trade to their full potential and hence impeding a thriving night life.”

In an effort to negate the lockout conditions, The Family Hotel’s current licensee Steven Forbes has restricted trade at the Hunter Street hotel to midnight – but he is still underwhelmed by ILGA’s lack of action.

“We’re disappointed in the decision as we believe it is harming Newcastle’s (and NSW’s) nightlife, especially our local music scenes. Not to mention the loss of jobs for a lot of people and the lockouts still haven’t led to a reduction of violence, they have only moved the violence to other areas of the state.

Forbes believes the lockouts have not been effective in their intended aims.

“The lockouts still haven’t changed the mentality towards alcohol consumption in any community either. The solution lies in letting businesses and culture flourish, backed up by more police presence and staff training. The onus needs to be taken off venues and put back onto any individuals responsible for disobeying the law.”

AHA NSW and hotelier wills now review the report in detail and provide a response to ILGA within 21 days.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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