$2 booze bus

By ZOE SATHERLEY

A $2 booze bus is one of the major proposals for an historic liquor accord designed to make Lismore the safest city in the nation. Member businesses in which alcohol is sold or consumed, like clubs, pubs, restaurants and sporting associations, would contribute towards the courtesy bus, dropping people home on Friday and Saturday nights.

Discount taxi vouchers and taxi phones are also being examined by a working party set up by the Richmond Local Area Command, licensed premises and Lismore City Council.

Working party member Insp Tony Crandell said the initiative was very exciting.

"The planning is still in its early stages but members are looking at forming an incorporated association to oversee the accord," he said.

"Some licensees are talking about circulating a free platter of food for patrons after drinks have stopped being served, so they can have something to eat and unwind a little before heading home.

"It used to be the cops against the licensees and now we couldn't be working more closely together.

"It is just fantastic. Lismore will be a very safe place in which to go out. Fewer people will be out on the streets drunk late at night and people will have a cheap alternative to driving home when they've had too much alcohol."

Brad Stamp, co-owner and manager of Mary Gilhooleys Irish pub and Restaurant, has helped produce the first 23-page draft of the accord which will be presented to the working party at a meeting today.

"This has all happened very quickly over the past six weeks," he said.

"I went to the police and said both sides needed a mind-set change so that we could work collaboratively rather than us being frightened of them and them thinking we were just greedy pigs who didn't care about our patrons or the community.

"We're here to run a good business and are trying to do everything right. If feels great now to have the police working with us and not against us."

Doug Lawrence, chairman of Lismore Taxis Co-operative, said although a courtesy bus might cut across some of their business, "if it does the job, it's okay by us. We won't be objecting."



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