City of Stonnington says council has vital role in assessing local liquor licences

Press Release | 1 July 2019

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The City of Stonnington supports the State Government’s announcement this weekend to extend the existing freeze on late-night liquor licences in inner-city municipalities, including Stonnington for a further two years, but is concerned that local government has been removed from the liquor licence assessment process.

City of Stonnington Mayor, Cr Steve Stefanopoulos, said Council strongly supports continuing the freeze to control the density of liquor licenses and discourage related anti-social behaviour in major entertainment precincts, but believes Council has a vital role in assessing liquor licences.

“Local government is uniquely placed to balance local economic development and community safety needs – to date we have played a vital role assessing temporary and permanent liquor licence freeze exemptions,” said Mayor Stefanopoulos.

“Under the previous freeze conditions, venues seeking an exemption needed to seek Council’s support. This process enabled Council to assess the potential safety and amenity issues prior to an exemption being granted.”

The State Government’s changes include:

  • no longer requiring Council support for an application seeking an exemption from the guidelines
  • introducing a new temporary liquor licence exemption to allow venues to broadcast  international sporting events after 1am
  • removing existing conditions, such as venue management plans and food service compliance associated with New Year’s Eve exemptions, and
  • increasing the number of patrons from 200 to 500 for live music venues.

“Making the process for venues seeking an exemption simpler should not come at the expense of community safety or local amenity,” said Mayor Stefanopoulos.

“Broadcasting international sporting events throughout the night has obvious noise ramifications for residents living in the vicinity of licensed venues.

“Removing conditions that require venues to outline their safe operations and security in a management plan, as well as ensuring food service is available where alcohol is served, clearly increases the risk associated with alcohol service.

“The State Government’s changes also directly conflict with the ‘Late night liquor licence trading in the Chapel Street Precinct (2010)’ research paper which clearly stated that operating hours must not extend beyond 1am and patron capacity must not exceed 200 patrons.

“We are disappointed that the State Government has deemed the local perspective unnecessary to the review and approval process, and believe these changes weaken current controls, negatively impacting our residents’ and the vibrancy of our iconic entertainment precincts.

“The City of Stonnington urges the State Government to reconsider their decision to exclude local councils from the process of assessing exemptions, and retain conditions that minimise the risks to local amenity and community safety.”

 

City of Stonnington Mayor, Cr Steve Stefanopoulos is available for interview or comment.

For media or photo opportunities, please the Communications Department at Stonnington Council on 8290 1113 or media@stonnington.vic.gov.au