Got A Noisy Pub Complaint? Sort It Over A Drink, Not In Court
One Sydney mayor is waging war on the city's "culture of complaint" in a bid to save local venues from the litigious red tape that's sending pubs broke.
Under a new 'Good Neighbour' policy, residents living near a licensed venue in the Inner West Council will no longer be able to jump straight into legal action when making a noise or amenity complaint.
Following a push from Mayor Darcy Byrne, complainants and venue operators will have to sit down and talk it out face to face -- over beers if necessary.
It's a process of mitigation where in the past there has been litigation, Byrne said.
"For far too long, sometimes a tiny number of complainers, including people who choose to move next door to a longstanding pub, have been supported by politicians and government in persecuting hotels, clubs and small bars," the mayor told 10 daily.
"But from now on if someone wants to make a complaint they're going to have to put their name to it, come and sit down, and have a meeting with the publican to talk through a solution before we start getting legalistic."
The former Leichhardt Council adopted a Good Neighbour policy following the collapse of iconic live music venue, the Annandale Hotel. The establishment was driven into receivership due partly to difficulties with regulation and noise complaints in 2013.
Now, Byrne has council backing to expand the policy across the Inner West Council, which encompasses many pub-rich suburbs including Newtown, Enmore and Rozelle.
"The process that exists across Sydney in which someone gets on the phone and makes a complaint and then we immediately start spending public and private money in legal action instead of getting everyone together in a room over a coffee or a beer to talk through a common sense solution -- that process has to end."
It's a big win for the city's pub scene, which Byrne said has been "imperiled" by traditional complaint process.
Australian Hotels Association NSW Director of Liquor and Policing, John Green, said any policy which cuts bureaucratic red tape is a win for the industry.
"This provides a level of common sense," Green told 10 daily.
"Where if someone is making a complaint and they've recently moved into the place and then turned around and say 'this pub that's been there since 1840 is making noise', then there should be a process that identifies who was there first and how do we solve this to everyone's appeasement."
The announcement comes as NSW prepares to review Sydney's controversial lockout laws.
A cross-party parliamentary committee will consult with NSW Police and health, community, entertainment and music groups, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday.
Byrne -- who noted a significant influx of people heading to Newtown for nights out when Kings Cross venues began to shut down -- will be one of the first to address the committee.
He is calling on the Berejiklian government to mandate the 'Good Neighbour' policy for all councils as a step towards reminding tourists Sydney doesn't "shut down after dark".
"Every NSW Council should be collaborating with the music industry and local residents to resolve complaints over a beer or a coffee rather than in court," Byrne said.
"We're (council) not on the side of the resident or the hotel owner. We're there to actually solve the problem and that hasn't been happening until now."
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