A vote at the next Randwick City Council meeting will determine the fate of a temporary alcohol ban on Coogee Beach. Credit: Didi Jeans

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By TALLULAH THOMPSON & DYLAN CRISMALE

Randwick City Council has extended a temporary ban on alcohol at Coogee Beach until later this month.

Randwick Mayor, Noel D’Souza, used his executive powers on March 1 to keep the ban in place after the Summer period.

Councilors will decide if the ban should be permanent at a Council meeting on March 28.

Mr D’Souza said, “It’s going to be permanent. We’re still going to vote on it, but at this stage there is a very good chance it’ll be permanent.”

Deputy Mayor, Brendan Roberts and two Randwick City Councillors, Harry Stavrinos and Anthony Andrews, said the community should be consulted before a final decision is made.

“If we’re going to make such a dramatic change in our social regulations, then you can’t just impose it on the community without community consultation,” said Mr Roberts.

On March 1, the three councillors lodged a successful rescission motion and overturned the majority vote to permanently ban alcohol at Coogee Beach.

Their actions were undone by Mr D’Souza less than 24 hours later.

Mr D’Souza said he acted within section 226 of the Local Government Act 1993, which states, “in cases of necessity”, the Mayor can exercise policymaking functions of the council between meetings.

The initial ban was enforced after a backpacker party on Christmas Day 2016, left 13 tonnes of rubbish on the shores of Coogee Beach.

Rona Wade, Secretary of community group, Coogee Precinct, said prior to this event many residents had expressed concern about alcohol and public safety at Coogee reserves.

“On weekend afternoons and public holidays, Goldstein reserve was an unregulated beer garden. Locals and visitors alike no longer felt safe being in the area at those times,” she said.

Visitors were permitted to consume alcohol at Dunningham and Goldstein reserves in the afternoon, some of the last areas in Sydney where it was legal to drink by the beach.

“It appears that, that little window of opportunity we gave residents to drink between the hours of 12pm and 4pm was abused by some.

“We’ve been speaking to other stakeholders like the police and lifeguards, and the residents, of course – they wanted an alcohol ban so they could enjoy the reserves in a safe environment,” Mr D’Souza said.

Local resident, Gerald De Los Santos, says community members have not been adequately consulted over the extended alcohol ban.

“I feel like everyone needs a say. It’s not right that they’re taking the matter into their own hands.

“I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction from the council and it’s punishing the majority of the people who are doing the right thing,” he said.

Mr De Los Santos was at one of the Coogee reserves on Christmas Day 2016 and said he was aware of the littering laws and walked a block away to find empty bins.

“If we want to prevent anything happening here again I feel that from the moment they come into Coogee or the Randwick City Council area, there should be clear signs [outlining the law],” he said.

In an email to Mr D’Souza, Ms Wade of the Coogee Precinct, expressed support for the extended alcohol ban.

“We elect our Councillors to represent our collective interests and to work on behalf of the community and a large part of that is public safety.

“I can only assume those Councillors who signed the rescission motion and who are advocating consultation know nothing of what happened on Christmas Day or any weekend afternoon for the past few years.

“If they had, they would not have taken the action they have,” she said.

Mr Roberts said he will continue to fight for more community consultation on the issue when council meets on March 28.