In this week’s instalment of citizen journalism, Steyne Hotel proprietor, David McHugh, argues that tough new restrictions forced upon the Steyne and 47 other ‘problem’ venues in NSW are an affront to local liquor accords and police who have been working in tandem to rectify alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.

“It appears that these new measures were not discussed with local police, but then they are expected to enforce the laws that they may feel are not in the best interests of their district.

Based on what I’m hearing across the industry, the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) is not the independent body it purports to be, having suggested to senior police that to object to the new legislation would clearly be an embarrassment to the NSW Government.

For venues like the Steyne that have been studiously applying rules and restrictions through local liquor accord initiatives for some time in collaboration with police, the new laws are totally ill-fitting and an unwarranted encumbrance.

Our Local Area Commander has spent a lot of time and effort in putting measures in place to curb the disrespectful behavior of a few, and end up getting a kick in the guts for their trouble.

The Steyne has led the way on initiatives and programs to better manage the sale and promotion of alcohol and to work with stakeholders to ban delinquent drinkers, and the upshot is we just keep getting stigmatised.

In the week before we purchased the Steyne back in 2006, the hotel was branded the number one offender in terms of the incidence of anti-social behaviour and assaults. We have come a long way since then.

Since we purchased the Steyne Hotel we have set about bringing a new level of respectability this icon. This has been at the forefront of our operations rather than its short-term financial survival.

A month ago we appeared on a Top 48 list of shamed hotels that were supposedly the direct target of the new Government crackdown, and yet a week ago we were praised by the local police commander for tracking to be in the bottom 100 premises. A very strong result, he said.

It just doesn’t add up. And now we’re supposed to sit back and cop a new set of mandatory standard licensing conditions, even if we don’t deserve them.

In practice we have no option but to apply the new measures, but on principle we are very critical on over onerous trade restrictions and a situation where a miss-mash of compliance measures, which continue to grow like topsy, are supervised by multiple agencies seemingly working at cross purposes.

Our stand has nothing to do with frustration or disenchantment with the local police. Indeed, we have a very good and cooperative working relationship with Commander Dave Darcy, who is doing a fantastic job. 

Our disappointment is that we were doing everything we could under the rules of our licence, but this Government refuses to give credit where credit is due.”

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The Shout Team

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

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