The State’s most senior liquor licensing officer will meet police and council representatives from Tweed Heads and Byron Bay to discuss how new liquor laws can help address local alcohol-related problems.

Director of Liquor and Gaming Albert Gardner will meet Tweed and Byron Shire Council representatives including councillors, general managers and key staff, as well as senior police from the Tweed-Byron Local Area Command, at Tweed Heads police station tomorrow (July 29) from 9.30am to 11am.

The meeting will also discuss future directions for the Tweed-Byron Alcohol Response Taskforce which was formed one year ago to reduce intoxication levels and alcohol-related assaults in licensed premises.

The taskforce has focused on intensive case management of high-risk licensed venues.

Alcohol-related assaults in eight hot spot licensed venues in Tweed Heads, Kingscliff and Byron Bay have fallen 13%, with licensees adopting a range of strategies to improve alcohol and security management.

Assaults at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel have fallen 86%, while Cheeky Monkeys Bar and Restaurant at Byron Bay has cut assault rates by 57%.

The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing’s Strategic Enforcement Branch established the Tweed-Byron Alcohol Response Taskforce in July last year with police from the Tweed-Byron LAC and the Tweed Coast, Tweed Rivers and Byron Bay Liquor Accords.

“This taskforce has made local licensed venues and surrounding areas safer by reducing alcohol-related violence but there is still a lot more work to be done,” Mr Gardner said.

“The taskforce has provided extra enforcement and education resources including covert operations in licensed venues to test compliance levels, audits of pubs and clubs to help licensees strengthen alcohol and security management plans, and workshops for licensees and their staff.

“Licensees have worked co-operatively with liquor inspectors and police to reduce intoxication levels and the associated anti-social behaviour and violence by adopting new measures to improve the operation of their venues.

“Tomorrow’s meeting will look to build on these efforts by examining emerging alcohol-related issues and how we can effectively use provisions under the new Liquor Act to further reduce the impact of alcohol consumption and the operation of licensed venues on local communities.

“The Director of Liquor and Gaming can now impose conditions on licensed venues not meeting their responsibilities, declare lockouts/curfews to reduce patron migration and anti-social behaviour, and ban irresponsible liquor products and promotions to reduce intoxication levels.

“The Director can also require a licensee to make a financial contribution to a local liquor accord to enhance its ability to find local solutions to local alcohol problems.”

Under the new Liquor Act:

It is an offence for an ejected patron to re-enter the licensed venue for 24 hours or remain in the vicinity (50m) for six hours. On-the-spot fines of $550 apply to each offence;

Liquor accords can apply to the new Casino, Liquor & Gaming Control Authority to ban repeatedly troublesome patrons from all member-licensed venues for up to six months;

Local residents, police and councils can take quick and effective action against licensed venues causing neighbourhood disturbances by lodging a complaint with the Director of Liquor and Gaming; and

Local communities have more of a say on applications for new liquor licences and extended trading hours that may impact on their neighbourhood through a new community impact statement process.

“I am keen to hear first hand the concerns of the local community at tomorrow’s meeting and examine potential solutions by using provisions under the new liquor laws and continuing the good work of the Tweed-Byron Alcohol Response Taskforce,” Mr Gardner said.