I’ve spent half of my adult years in a holiday town in England and half in Byron Bay. I also enjoy a night in the pub from time to time.
When I left England, the rule was that all pubs closed at 11.30pm, with last orders being at 11pm. I regularly saw fights at kick-out time and some were truly horrific. They mostly occurred at the bus stop, taxi rank or kebab shop. Why? Because all the pubs closed at the same time and every drinker in town was on the street. Although their intentions are good, this scenario is exactly what the ‘Last drinks at 12’ campaign will deliver.
Since living in Byron, I’ve witnessed violence only twice. Once when my friends were attacked after a meal at The Balcony. The attackers weren’t tourists and they weren’t drunk – they were very sober local youths out for some tourist bashing. The other time was a fight in broad daylight between local lads and a tourist surfer near Woolies.
I went back to visit England and the rules had changed. The government had looked at Europe, where there was less alcohol-related violence, and had changed the rules to move in line with the continent. Pubs could open for as long as they liked; they had to apply for a specific licence, inform the police, and could be stripped of their licence if they didn’t comply. The result? People came and went as they pleased. There was no mass exodus of drunks, no massive queue at the taxi rank and a less intimidating experience all around.
You have a simple choice:
For more fights and too much trouble for our local police force to deal with, support ‘Last Drinks at 12’. You’ll probably also find that taxi drivers won’t want to work the night shift, late-night food outlets will need security, the local hospital will be overrun, and the kind of tourists that the town wants to attract won’t come here. Businesses will reduce staff hours and local families will be worse off.
For a night out without being intimidated, oppose the ‘Last Drinks at 12’ mass exodus of alcohol-fuelled youths – the Midnight Fight Club!
We know prohibition doesn’t work and that a small few are making plenty of money selling alcohol. Maybe they should contribute to a fund that protects their businesses as well as the people of the town. This could be spent on: better lighting, security, free transport, or whatever the ‘experts’ believe will help us all the best.
Personally, I don’t want to live in a town where I’m scared to go out for a drink if it means everyone meeting for a brawl on Jonson St. I’m even more scared for my teenage daughter.
Ashley Burke-Smith, Suffolk Park.