A STRONG police presence coupled with a proactive initiative from the Hastings Liquor Accord will ensure a safe, incident-free New Years Eve in Port Macquarie.
At least that is the plan for Port Macquarie licensees and law enforcement.
Over the New Year period, the Hastings Liquor Accord is funding a Nightrider Bus program to assist in the safe transportation out of the Port Macquarie’s central business district.
It is hoped that party revellers can enjoy their night out without the need to consider using their own vehicles.
It promotes the nation-wide ‘Plan B’ campaign to help reduce the number of drink drivers on our roads.
“As licensed premise business owners, we are genuinely concerned about the welfare of our patrons and the community,” said Hastings Liquor Accord president Alistair Flower.
“That also includes what happens to our patrons when they leave one of our establishments.”
“Drink driving is still an issue in society and although the community needs to take some self responsibility around alcohol issues, as an accord we can assist in the promotion and education of the consequences of drink driving, and provide some ideas on alternatives to drink driving.”
Many of the licensed premises in the Hastings area have teamed up with RMS and the Plan B campaign.
“Posters, coasters and staff in branded t-shirts can be seen plastered around many pubs,” Mr Flower said.
Along with the NYE nightrider program, the Liquor Accord has collaborated with Port Taxis to provide media around thinking ahead on a night ahead and use Taxi services.
Additionally many of the clubs and hotels in the Hastings area are outlaying big money on providing courtesy buses for their patrons on New Years Eve.
Sergeant Andrew Kable from Port Macquarie Police said that New Years Eve will be the same as previous years, with a strong presence from police.
“We will have patrols on Town Green and Westport, additional car crews, inclusive of Camden Haven, operational support police, push bike police and the dog squad,” he said.
“Our resources are strong and with 40-odd officers working on the night we want to ensure the safety of everyone so that people can have a good New Years Eve.”
The Hastings Liquor Accord has also produced a television commercial, which you can view here:
STATISTICS from Port Macquarie police have shown a drastic reduction in alcohol related incidents over the past decade.
The Hastings Liquor Accord was shown the statistics from Superintendent Paul Fehon at their quarterly general meeting on December 5.
Alcohol related incidents in CBD of Port Macquarie have reduced most notably in Horton, William and Short Streets from 866 in 2008 to 176 in 2016 – an 80 percent reduction.
In total, incidents have halved from the peak of 2825 in 2008, to a projection in 2016 of 1498.
As a percentage of all incidents, alcohol as a factor has dropped from a peak of 18 percent in 2008 to a 2016 projection of 10.3 percent.
President of the Hastings Liquor Accord, Alistair Flower, said the “fantastic results” are a credit to the relationship the liquor accord and licensees have with the local police.
“Licensed premise business owners all have a common goal on building successful sustainable businesses and have worked hard together along with great support from police to achieve this,” Mr Flower said.
“Safety for our patrons is paramount and we have collaborated with some other community groups and have created innovative campaigns to help promote awareness around responsibility with alcohol.”
These include upcoming drink driving campaigns and supporting the FOTSUN team by providing free water stations at the festival.
Earlier this year, the accord introduced a multi barring policy. If someone is barred from one licensed premise, they will be barred from all.
“It has been highly effective. We have a great track record at the moment with no one being considered at this stage,” Mr Flower said.
The Accord was formed to promote and enforce alcohol related responsibility and that is still at the forefront for Mr Flower and other committee members.
“As an accord with over 100 active responsible members, we look to celebrate our successes and create good news stories from our industry, an industry that has always been tarnished,” he said.
Licensing officer John Lawrie was full of praise for the licensees who continue to do the right thing.
“You can never take your eyes off the ball. When you get complacent you will have problems again and that isn’t just from the police but from the industry,” he said.
“It’s about that cultural change in Port Macquarie. We’ve had some outside influences from Sydney like the lock outs and coward punch legislation and that has all rubbed off into regional NSW.
“Contribution from the local licensee and the police means we are getting towards where we want to be.
“We ask people to go out and behave, look out for each other and be responsible for your own actions.”
He was happy to hear about the decrease in alcohol related incidents.
“There are a lot of factors about why the stats have dropped so much in the last decade,” he said.
“Public education in state and national media has helped. No one likes the fact two young men were killed from coward punches.
“We have alcohol-free zone and prohibition zones in our town, we are using night rider busses over the peak periods, the cabs have come on board with the local liquor accord and overall there has been a lot of proactive things happening in our community over the past 10 years.”
With everybody contributing and realising that alcohol can have some adverse impacts, by working together Sgt Lawrie hopes to see a change of mentality in people.