City venues unite to ban drunken patrons

NEWCASTLE’S inner-city pubs have formed an alliance in an attempt to weed out drunks and violent offenders.

Patrons who are drunk or are ejected from one of the city’s five largest venues – Fanny’s of Newcastle, the King Street Hotel, MJ Finnegans, the Cambridge Hotel and The Brewery – face being banned from all five.

The venues have started a joint company, Newcastle Entertainment Precinct, and will unveil the technical details of their initiative today.

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The Newcastle Herald understands the zero-tolerance plan to keep troublemakers away from late-night venues and out of the city has support from the police.

Russell Richardson, who owns both Fanny’s and the King Street Hotel, said publicans had often argued that patrons needed to be personally responsible for their actions.

He said the move was a proactive way to deal with drunks that would not punish those who partied responsibly.

‘‘We’ve always said we want the focus to be on the behaviour of people ... and that we need to get together to create a safer environment in town that is good for everybody,’’ Mr Richardson said.

The city’s pubs have come under fire in recent years with attention drawn to a number of brawls and serious assaults.

The five venues involved have been made subject to trading restrictions, including a ban on shots, a 1am lockout and a 3am curfew.

They have also each been named and shamed on the NSW government’s most recent list of violent hotels. The list shows MJ Finnegans and Fanny’s recorded more assaults than any other pubs in NSW, and the police are understood to be considering an application to further tighten their trading restrictions.

Newcastle City Council voted to support that application last month.

Mr Richardson said venues had many incentives to reduce violence on top of the threat of further restrictions.

He also backed a recent push to bring diversity to the city by encouraging more small bars.

‘‘We all want to have a vibrant modern city. We all want a safe city that has areas where everyone can come to,’’ he said

‘‘Creating a safer environment in town is good for everybody. At the end of the day an empty city is probably an unsafe city.’’

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