By Annette Shailer and Andrew Starke

MP and Lord Mayor Clover Moore has denied that changes to Sydney’s late-trading clubs and bars are designed to increase her stranglehold on these precincts.

At Council level Moore, supported by all councillors, has proposed to amend the Late Night Trading Development Control Plan (DCP), with changes that will create further uncertainty for the pub industry.

The new rules will increase the complexity and cost of applications by venues to continue existing late-trading hours, as well as impose a new ‘reviewable condition’ providing even less certainty for operators.

Australian Hotels Association (NSW) CEO, Sally Fielke said that the Late Night Trading DCP went beyond what council needed to be regulating.

“These changes are about expanding Clover Moore’s power base. Unfortunately, they also erode certainty for business operators and further dissuade any potential investment in this city,” she said.

“Liquor licensing laws are set out in the Liquor Act 2007 and regulated by the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR). Licensed venues currently have three separate bodies that then enforce the Act – OLGR officers, the police and a specialised arm of the police, the Alcohol Licensing Enforcement Command (ALEC). The concern from industry is why Council feel the need to usurp all of this and put in place their own controls.

“Hotels will not only be placed on permanent trial periods in relation to their late trading hours, council is also attempting to give themselves the power to review/ revoke these hours with a minimum 14 days notice.”

Fielke said that, in practical terms, licensees or investors would have to think twice about whether it’s worth renovating or further investing in their venues when they can’t be assured they’ll still have the same trading hours in the future.

“Hotels are huge employers in this city who proudly cater to the vibrant late night economy. On the one hand the State Government talks of Sydney as a global city yet this whole philosophy is being sabotaged by Clover Moore and her council,” Fielke said.

“This is a further attempt by Clover Moore to euthanise the vibrant night life of Sydney.”

However a spokesperson for the City of Sydney told TheShout that the proposed amendments would not curtail operating hours.

“The City of Sydney does not want to close bars at midnight – in fact the City’s Late Night Trading Development Control Plan, introduced in 2007, permits licensed premises to trade up to 24 hours a day, providing they do so safely,” she said. “Amendments proposed to the DCP do not affect this.”

“This same plan has also encouraged more than 30 new small bars to open across the inner city by permitting later base trading hours and less onerous conditions to gain extended trading hours,” she continued. “The City wants a dynamic, exciting and safe night time economy.

“The changes encourage the responsible management of late night trading premises. This is all about protecting the safety and amenity of residents and visitors. We are committed to continuing to work with licensees, police and residents to improve safety and the sustainability of our late night precincts so that everybody can safely enjoy a fun and diverse night out.”

The Draft Amendments are on exhibition and submissions close on October 25.

To view the Draft Amendment, click here.

To comment, click here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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