There has been a reduction in the rate of alcohol-related assaults in Newtown at the same time as Marrickville Council has been trialling extended trading hours for a number of venues on Enmore Road, City Hub can reveal.
The statistics were outlined in a council report based on data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. While not analogous to the situation in Kings Cross, the figures would appear to discredit the link between early closing and reduced violence.
Incidents of alcohol-related assault in the Newtown district, including Enmore, fell 14.8 per cent from 2011 to 2013.
Between 2009 and 2013, council trialled later trading hours for ten venues on Enmore Road.
“Out of that ten, three of those are restaurants and cafes that you can drink at and four of them are venues that regularly have live music,” said Greens councillor Sylvie Ellsmore.
She argues the type of venues that have been granted the extended trading hours has helped lead to the reduction in violence.
“People are just better behaved in small bars because of the smaller space,” she said.
“There’s a much lower level of alcohol-related violence from the stats they’ve done of all the small bars.”
Richard Adamson, board member of the Newtown Precinct Business Association, said the alcohol-related violence has reduced because of the entertainment on offer at local venues.
“The thing about the small bars is that it is attracting a different clientele. I think it’s really to do with the offerings around food, particularly live music as well,” he said.
Mr Adamson, who is also the director of Young Henry’s Brewery, sees a benefit in the City of Sydney’s live music taskforce actively promoting live music, an initiative that Marrickville Council supports.
“Live music doesn’t make the primary purpose of going out drinking alcohol. I think that is a big positive,” he said.
“The Green Room and the Midnight Special, those venues are regulars for live music.”
It was expected that once the CBD lockout began, revellers would increasingly choose areas such as Newtown and Enmore as late night alternatives. Taxi and hire car drivers City Hub met on Friday night said more people were leaving the city before 1am and heading to Newtown in particular.
But Cr Ellsmore is concerned that in response, Newtown police are tightening their grasp around liquor licensing.
“We have evidence that the police are changing the way they respond to new liquor licenses because of the new CBD lockouts. The police are clearly doing something different in Newtown and Enmore than what they were three months ago,” Cr Ellsmore said.
“We need to ensure that positive, inclusive spaces in Newtown and Enmore are not restricted by a heavy-handed police response to alcohol management.”
The Stinking Bishops is a licensed dine-in cheese shop that opened up on Enmore Rd two weeks ago. They initially had trouble obtaining their liquor license from the Newtown police, even though they are not a late night venue.
Jamie Nimmo, co-owner of the Stinking Bishops, said after the initial difficulties Newtown police have been in contact and are being supportive.
“We’re trying to push a good kind of cultural relationship between alcohol and food as a kind of matching,” he said.
“We had some difficulties sort of surrounding it. I think the political climate at the moment surrounding alcohol has just made it a bit more difficult with people pushing licenses through.”