Newtown has gotten on the front foot to ward off late-night revellers looking to the area as a “last chance”.

Since the trading restrictions were imposed on Sydney’s CBD early last year stakeholders and critics alike have looked for evidence the measures would merely shift the problem to surrounding areas – both to justify or deny the virtues of preventing entry to licensed premises beyond a given time.

In the wake of the Imperial Hotel’s rapid demise, amid drugs and drunken revelry its operators blamed on the displacement of the late-night party crowd, unable to bar-hop in the CBD, the Newtown precinct has taken the proactive, voluntary initiative to impose its own restrictions.

While the city and Kings Cross cannot let new patrons onto the premises after 1:30, Newtown venues have agreed to a trial of shutting the doors at 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. Those exiting after that will require a pass-out to return.

Tim Claydon
Tim Claydon

“We just wanted to stay the same as we were, and thought this is the best solution,” Tim Claydon, chairman of Newtown Liquor Accord and operator of The Vanguard told PubTIC.

“So we’re telling patrons ‘don’t even think of heading to Newtown at 3am after a night out in the city as you simply won’t get in’.”

The area is long known for its artistic communities and multi-cultural tolerance, and the trading limitations are seen less as ‘restrictions’ than as defending the community’s late-night character.

“While there seems to have been an increase in patronage in the area, the experts tell us there has not been displacement of violence since lockouts were introduced in the CBD/Kings Cross areas – and we don’t want that to occur,” stresses Claydon.

“These are locally-developed common-sense measures that are right for us. They will keep Newtown a safe place for locals and visitors alike.

“This has always been a community with a special vibe, and the Accord means to keep it that way.”

Speaking to PubTIC, Solotel CEO Justine Baker said the initiatives, and the Group’s involvement at The Bank, one of Newtown’s biggest hotels, was “all about the community, and staying in line with community thinking”.

AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing, John Green
AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing, John Green

John Green, AHA director of liquor and policing, praised the customised solution as the approach that had seen positive results elsewhere.

“Newtown should not be thought of as a ‘last chance’ option for people heading out of the city late at night,” said Green.

“These are not blanket measures imposed from above, but have been developed locally by hoteliers and the police – specifically for the Newtown area.

“This is the right model for Newtown.”

The six-month trial is due to be in place by September, ahead of and in preparation for the onset of the summer period.


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