Police union challenges liquor accord rules

By Michelle Webster
Updated November 6 2012 - 2:16am, first published July 4 2011 - 11:06am
Wollongong's Grand Hotel falls just 36m outside the boundary set for mandatory inclusion in the city's liquor accord. Although the Grand is a voluntary member of the agreement, the dividing line itself has been criticised. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Wollongong's Grand Hotel falls just 36m outside the boundary set for mandatory inclusion in the city's liquor accord. Although the Grand is a voluntary member of the agreement, the dividing line itself has been criticised. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Major Wollongong CBD nightspots left out of a scheme designed to tackle booze-fuelled crime should be made mandatory members, the police union says.Last year, Wollongong's entertainment district was one of eight singled out by the former Keneally government for inclusion in the Hassle Free Nights scheme.Under the plan, a precinct liquor accord with mandatory membership only for venues inside the entertainment precinct was created, requiring participants to meet regularly and discuss ways to address the city's alcohol-fuelledviolence.Ten venues were named as mandatory participants and fall within a narrow boundary set by Communities NSW.But NSW Police Association Southern Region executive member Jason Hogan said a review was needed, with some major venues sitting just metres beyond the border."We're obviously concerned that one of the major venues within Wollongong is The Grand Hotel and that's 36m outside the liquor accord precinct," he said."We believe they should be included as mandatory.Although acting as voluntary members, the venues' owners were not obliged to comply with measures or make financial contributions, Mr Hogan said.However, spokesman for The Grand Hotel, Raz Dema, said the venue was committed to taking part in the accord."From my point of view, we should all fall under the same category and have to abide by the same rules," he said.When asked if he would accept the venue being included as a mandatory member of the scheme, Mr Dema stated: "We wouldn't have a problem with that."An Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing spokesman said the Wollongong precinct definition had been developed in consultation with licensees, industry peak bodies, the existing liquor accord, council, police and other government agencies.Mr Hogan said a major contributor to alcohol-fuelled crime was the migration of revellers between venues, and drinkers coming from nightspots outside the boundary also added to the problem.Although they were voluntary accord members, large venues such at WIN Entertainment Centre and UOW Unibar should also have mandatory membership, he said.Last week, a bid by Wollongong police to impose a blanket 1.30am lockout on CBD nightspots was rejected.Instead the State Government set a ban on selling shots, doubles and high-strength drinks after 1am.

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