Newcastle pubs push to change rules

A RENEWED push is under way to wind back the tough trading restrictions on Newcastle pubs.

Hoteliers are claiming the controversial conditions – which include earlier closing times, a lockout and alcohol service measures – have largely failed and are unfair on venues that do the right thing.

But police representatives warn any changes would bring a return of violence to the streets.

Newcastle MP Tim Owen plans to convene a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the effectiveness of the landmark Liquor Administration Board decision of 2008.

The move has angered the Police Association of NSW, which said Mr Owen should stop ‘‘taking advice from publicans and start listening to local police’’.

The city has five venues on the state government’s most recent ‘‘name and shame’’ list of violent venues: MJ Finnegans, Fannys, the Cambridge Hotel, the Queens Wharf Brewery, and the King Street Hotel.

But the conditions on Newcastle pubs are already more stringent Hoteliers push to change rules than those that apply to all the state’s ‘‘violent venues’’.

The government’s new three-strikes policy is set to begin in January, which would entail altering a hotel’s licence conditions, cancelling or suspending licences for up to 12 months after three offences have been recorded.

The Australian Hotels Association NSW branch has questioned the layers of rules and whether Newcastle conditions should be abandoned in favour of the three-strikes approach. It has urged more be done to tackle problems such as poor transport in the city.

Conditions imposed separately on Hamilton pubs are being reviewed, with a decision on whether to make the restrictions permanent due in February.

The Newcastle Herald can reveal Hunter New England Health has cautioned authorities in a submission not to relax the Hamilton conditions, to avoid alcohol harm in the community.

A Newcastle-Hamilton precinct liquor accord established under the former Labor government to help tackle late-night problems has effectively collapsed, with no meetings held for several months.


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