Saturday, 15 March 2008

Ban on late spirit sales

THE late-night sale of straight spirits and the strongest ready-to-drink alcopops has been banned at 15 of Newcastle's most violent pubs, and a 1am curfew imposed.

In a victory that will be used as a precedent by community groups, the Liquor Administration Board yesterday banned the sale after 10pm of straight shots, mixed drinks with more than 30 millilitres of alcohol, and premixed drinks commonly known as alcopops with more than 5 per cent alcohol.

The pubs, where 179 assaults occurred last year, have also been slapped with a 1am curfew, which means no one will be allowed in after this time. Closing hours will be earlier: 3am for those that opened until 5am and 2.30am for those that closed at 3am.

The hotels include Fanny's of Newcastle (40 assaults), the Crown and Anchor Hotel (28), the Queens Wharf Brewery (32) and the King Street Hotel (18).

The decision is the outcome of an application from police to the board under section 104 of the Liquor Act. It is thought to have been the first application of its kind in NSW, and has brought renewed energy to communities across Sydney lobbying for similar restrictions.

The restrictions were greeted with cautious optimism in Newcastle yesterday, but some campaigners feared hotel owners would use their financial and political clout to overturn the decision.

A Randwick councillor, Margaret Woodsmith, said the decision was a fillip for those campaigning for tighter restrictions on the Coogee Bay Hotel, named on Monday on the list of NSW's most violent pubs obtained by the Herald. "We will be taking this up," she said.

The Australian Hotels Association had "some concerns" with the decision but had not had time to review the document in detail.


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