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May 15, 2021

Byron nightclub targeted over violence

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One of Byron Bay’s hotspot venues for alcohol-fuelled violence has been targeted with the threat of losing its licence under new government rules taking effect tomorrow, 1 June.

Woody’s Surf Shack in Jonson Street, with 18 violent incidents recorded, has been listed among the state’s most violent venues by authorities and will now face a crackdown under the government’s licensing scheme.

Increasing brawling and assaults in Byron Bay’s CBD, including Jonson Street, have thrown the spotlight on the town, which police say is the fourth most violence- and assault-ridden area in the state. The issue has sparked a debate about the best way to curb alcohol-fuelled violence, with CCTV cameras being pushed by the town’s business chamber, local police and pub/club industry.

But Byron Shire Council prefers other measures be tried instead, including earlier closing times by the town’s many licensed premises: exceeding 50 in the CBD.

Hospitality minister George Souris yesterday released a revised list of violent venues, with 31 licensed premises in NSW subject to special licensing conditions based on the latest alcohol-related violence statistics.

Mr Souris said seven venues recorded 19 or more assaults in a 12-month period and would be subject to Level 1 restrictions for the next six months, the lowest number since the scheme’s inception in 2008.

He said 24 venues recorded between 12 and 18 violent incidents in a year to be classified as Level 2 premises, which included the Byron Bay venue that promotes itself on its website as ‘Byron’s late-night hangout and bar’.

The review of the violent venues list is based on statistics from the 2011 calendar year, and Woody’s Surf Shack is one of five NSW premises included on the list for the first time.

Mr Souris said that this year’s lower assault statistics were encouraging, in part due to the government’s Three Strikes disciplinary scheme which strongly motivated ‘all licensed venues to lift their game or risk the ultimate sanction, loss of licence’.

‘It is now crystal clear that we will crack down on venues that allow themselves to become magnets for alcohol-fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour that threatens public safety,’ he said.

‘Licensees need to ensure their premises operate responsibly and safely.

‘Those refusing to curb alcohol-related violence will also suffer the consequences of tougher operating restrictions and possible licence suspension or cancellation if they continue to commit liquor law breaches under our Three Strikes disciplinary scheme.’

Mr Souris says the government is reviewing the violent-venues scheme to assess its ongoing effectiveness in conjunction with other alcohol-related initiatives, including expanded police move-on powers, the intoxicated and disorderly offence, intended trial of sobering-up centres and the Three Strikes disciplinary scheme.

Under Level 2 restrictions (12 to 18 violent incidents in a year) venues have to: stop selling alcohol 30 minutes before closing; stop using glass or breakable containers after midnight; stop serving alcohol (time-outs) or provide free water and food for 10 minutes every hour after midnight; and maintain a detailed incident register whenever trading.

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  1. Earlier closing times will just mean that people will drink more while the clubs are open, and then be left on the street in a drunken mess.

    This means that local pubs/clubs can just push their problems to the street,

    CCTV is the way to go. At least then it will be easier to identify and prosecute the offenders.

  2. I notice when you order a midi in these venues you are told by the bar staff they only serve schooners. Have to ask, is that responsible service of alcohol?

  3. Surely it’s obvious that one of the contributing factors is the availability of alcohol, fueled by the ever growing numbers of alcohol outlets. Get these bar brawlers onto a data base which is linked to all suppliers of alcohol thereby refusing them entry or a drink for an extended period of time. Don’t let Byron go down the drink because of a minority of half trained baboons.

  4. Once again, Byron Council goes against the grain of sensible and popular opinion. Are you guys just gifted in your stupidity, or did you have to practice?
    Earlier closing times? I see, so I guess that you all think that people wont be able to reach their exessive levels of intoxication just because you close a few hours early? Wake up. Remember when pubs were only allowed to open for restricted hours years ago? People rushed in and power drank for an hour or so before continuing on home for dinner. This is exactly what will happen with your proposal. People will power drink until close.
    Then as a result of that, you run the risk of intoxicated people on the streets earlier than usual, therefore seeing exactly the same level of violence, but becomming more of a danger to the general public your supposed to be protecting.
    And are you all naive enough to think that just because the venue closes earlier, patrons wont get booze from somewhere else? Depending on how early you are planning on unleashing these drunkards onto the streets, they could probably still catch the local bottle-o for a top-up!.
    At least beforehand they were all in the one place and loosely managed. Now the Police will have even more on there hands to deal with. No wonder you stand alone in this moronic suggestion.
    Every suggestion exept yours seems plausable. Police do need to be given more power. Whats the use of a cop, if his hands are tied? About as useful as a security gaurd in a bank with no gun.
    Stop picking on the venues, and start implementing measures that direct these thugs out of the CBD once they have exited their preferred choice of premises. Many business’ run courtesy buses, or have cabs available before closing time for this exact reason. Less loitering means less oportunity to get up to no good.
    The other idea I think is a good one is to reduce the amount of breakable containers inside licensed premeses. I think they should have this as standard as oppose to after midnight. It gives sickos that are that way inclined less of a chance to maim someone.
    Already those last couple of ideas are better than yours Byron Council, and I’m not getting paid for them. Maybe I should apply for your job………….

  5. There was a time when any alcohol drug outlet closed early, 10 pm or so, and earlier before that. There were only a few sources, RSL, Workers, & footie clubs, and perhaps a bottle shop that closed very early. There was still a problem from the drug’s “I don’t care” and arrogance to violence, and its shutdown causing driving & other trouble. This is a dangerous drug that causes a great deal of violent damage and death.
    Byron has what..56 outlets (as crazy as), and use goes all night, producing a great deal more trouble, damage and death than existed in earlier times.
    Reducing outlets, late night use and education will reduce serious trouble. With police saying 80-85% of all crime in Byron has alcohol drugs involvement currently… How is that acceptable?
    Reduce the cause before damage occurs in the first place. Cameras can help -after the damage- for charges, but do not stop arrogant drunks damage who could care less about them to start with. Blind drunks don’t care. Haha.

    Also, it has been found Cannabis use reduces alcohol use, violence, crime & death..MMD’s in the US. Cannabis has never killed anyone from direct use, is peaceful and connected with many benefits, not physically addictive, arrogant and damaging, and lifts awareness rather than reducing it. A few regulated outlets, MMD’s or Coffeeshops, would also strongly reduce alcohol damage, death and police overload.
    In any case, the current path is insane and must change to save lives and property. The build up in use of poison alcohol is in fact what caused the alcohol prohibition 100 years ago.

    Prohibitions do not work, so better education and regulations and less outlets must be put in place, period. Or just be apathetic and let it continue to get worse and worse, as it is. Just money & acting like fools is ok?? You reckon?

  6. You may not realise it but Byron’s reputation for drunken thuggery has gone offshore in recent times. Backpackers in European travel brochures and supplements are being warned about the rise in violence, and attacks on European women sleeping in vans. The CCTV cameras may not be to Jan’s liking but it’s ‘last resort’ time, in both senses of the term, otherwise Byron will just sink as a tourist destination.

  7. I totally agree with reyntiens. It’s appalling that you can’t buy a midi. The staff working in these clubs/bars by law have to have completed a RSA (responsible serving of alcohol) course, so surely their managers and the owner should also. If someone orders a midi, then give it to them! Sheesh.

    Also, reducing double/triple nips of the hard stuff to singles, might help. Maybe the hip pocket might slow these dickheads down (they’ll need to buy more drinks for the same kick but it’ll cost more and take more time). Just a thought to share, that’s all.

  8. Here is an awesome idea no one has thought about. Allow certain premises to open all night. These premises will be unlicensed and not BYO, full of cheap food and comfi places to chill, full of juices, coffees, toasts, chips, pop corn, kebabs and so, big TVs and smooth dance music. A free bicycle-taxi to and from for every double meal. A magnet for the individuals which are the source of the problems. Empathy people, put yourselves in their shoes. See, if you approach the problem with love everyone wins. CCTV? more power to the police? closing venues earlier? If you close your hand tighter you may kill the bird. You won´t undo the knot if you pull the rope tighter, loosen up and win! Exercise a different approach, this is Byron Bay and we love it here.
    Also the violence will decrease by simply allowing people to smoke marihuana, but this is taboo, can´t even talk about it, marihuana is the devil and is out of the equation, more policeman with bigger guns and eyes everywhere. We are sheeeeepp.


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