Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Newcastle council briefed on alcohol and violence plan

From The Herald...


GETTING tough on crime and offering diverse activities for responsible patrons would be key to curbing Newcastle's alcohol-fuelled problems after dark, a civic investigation found.

Newcastle City Council is preparing an alcohol management strategy to deal with problems such as street violence and malicious damage.

Councillors were briefed last night on the new policy's progress.

Council place management services manager Deb Alterator said a workshop with 140 stakeholders and a survey netting 777 responses showed that the top three priorities were public safety, maximising night-time offerings and transport.

Key focus areas of the strategy would include increased law enforcement, expanding evening activities and reviewing bus, train and taxi systems.

"The purpose of our strategy being reduce alcohol-related harm and antisocial activities in the Newcastle local government area," Ms Alterator said.

Diversifying the night-time economy, reducing violence and property damage and restoring a public perception of a safe city were key goals, she said.

The council has made provision in its 2010-11 budget for some measures including $115,000 for new closed circuit television cameras, $5000 for signs in alcohol-free zones and areas and $35,000 to develop the alcohol management strategy.

Other planned actions are to develop guidelines governing liquor outlet density and trading hours, and improving lighting and pedestrian routes around the city.

Cr Michael Osborne suggested investigating the feasibility of a licensed premises levy.

"A lot of council resources will go into fixing problems that alcohol consumption is responsible for," he said.

Liveable city director Frank Cordingley said the strategy was a three- to four-year plan.

The council was focusing on things it could achieve now and would then advocate with other agencies and stakeholders for things that needed their support.

"The feeling is, get some runs on the board before we start looking at things like licensed premises levies," Mr Cordingley said.

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