By Vanessa Lim
Venues in Newtown have banded together against ‘party buses’ which they say bring trouble to the precinct.
Restaurants and bars along King Street and Enmore Road have banned the entry of people who arrive on party buses due to the often heavily intoxicated people’s behaviour adversely affecting the enjoyment of other clients.
The decision was taken during a Liquor Accord meeting where venue managers agreed unanimously that action was necessary.
Executive Manager of the Newtown Business Precinct Business Association Simon Shaw agreed that the ban was for the best.
“They identified a problem that was groups of individuals coming in their venues from party buses…[These] groups that had already been drinking or were potentially drinking on the bus, were already showing signs of intoxication and weren’t being let into the venue,” he said.
“They would try to get into other venues as a group or individual…so the venues got together, identified the issue that led to conversations around ensuring that party buses wouldn’t be allowed to drop their patrons off in the precinct and have entry into the venues.”
Mr Shaw said, “They would potentially cause issues including anti-social behaviour hence the stance was taken to communicate that if groups come in party buses, they won’t be allowed into venues.”
26 year old Lahiru Yapa is a hotel worker who has experienced first hand how intoxicated people can create an unsafe and unpleasant environment.
Mr Yapa said, “Each individual will act differently when they’re drunk, it also depends on how much alcohol is absorbed into their body”.
“Sometimes they will start a fight, like punching random people, you can experience these things first hand as well by going to a pub or bar on a Friday or Saturday night.”
Figures released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show that since the 2014 lockout laws shut down central Sydney, problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption in revellers previously experienced in areas like Kings Cross have simply moved west, with a dramatic increase in liquor offences recorded in Newtown in 2017.
The number of alcohol related assaults increased by 18 per cent in Newtown in 2014 then by 26 per cent in 2016 and 2017.
However, these statistics show a per capita decrease when taking into account increases in visitors to the area.
Simon Shaw said creating a better community was of the highest value to the venues involved, and the ban would allow businesses to concentrate on building relationships with locals.
“I think the decisions the businesses have made here is more in the long term interests of the precinct,” he said.
“Newtown is a very community-based precinct, most businesses in Newtown work together very well.”
“To our knowledge no other group of licenced venues has ever taken this type of action as a collective. It really speaks volumes to the long-term interests that these venues have as they care more about the community and not wanting to negatively impact the local community with these kinds of intoxicated people.”
Mr Shaw said that any short term downturn in business would be outweighed by the positives experienced in the medium to long term.
“As the Business Association, we can only see positives from the venues taking this significant stance…it’s discouraging people engaging in anti-social behaviour from being within that precinct and annoying other people.”
Visitors to Newtown have increased threefold in the last few years according to Mr Shaw, “Since the lock outs were brought to Sydney, the CBD and Kings Cross in 2014, the venues have been consistently working together to ensure that they can minimise any issues surrounding the large increase of people who have come to Newtown”.
Despite the benefits to locals of the ban on party buses in Newtown, individuals who have previously gone on the buses have mixed views.
19 year old university student Chelsea Connor hired a party bus for her birthday this year and said she was subject to strict entry conditions when she and her fellow partygoers tried to attend the races.
She said, “If letting these people attend or near the venue compromise the laws of responsible service of alcohol it makes sense, but [the ban] does seem very extreme”.
“I believe it is very unfair when people are not let into venues when they are not intoxicated…they should just identify the ones who seem intoxicated.”
“If they’re drunk, obviously this is valid reasoning to them not being let in, but if there is no proof that they are intoxicated, it is unfair.”
Lahiru Yapa said despite his experiences working with intoxicated people, he had mixed views on the strict ban.
He said, “I feel it’s unfair if people are not allowed into the businesses if they are not intoxicated, however, if they are highly affected from alcohol then bars and clubs have the authority to deny them entry as a safety precaution.
“From my experience working in bars and hotels, if I was heavily intoxicated and was denied, I would be okay, whereas, if I wasn’t intoxicated and got denied then I would be angry.”