BAN DRUNKS: Anthony Keon, licensee of the Ballina Hotel, thinks River Street should be an alcohol free zone. Picture: GEMMA ROS
BAN DRUNKS: Anthony Keon, licensee of the Ballina Hotel, thinks River Street should be an alcohol free zone. Picture: GEMMA ROS

BID TO REMOVE DRUNKS FROM STREET

By MARY MANN

WALKING down the main street of Ballina after dark on a Friday or Saturday night, you are likely to be confronted with smashed windows, trashed gardens, swearing and fighting.

The antisocial behaviour has come to characterise the town, and police and business owners say enough is enough.

Anthony Keon, the new licensee of the Ballina Hotel, is calling for a ban on alcohol consumption on River Street in the hope it will help put an end to the drunken chaos.

He will ask Ballina business owners to sign a petition in support of his call before he presents it to the council. Ballina police are also behind the push, and are in the process of lodging a submission to the council.

Most Friday and Saturday nights there are 30 or 40 people walking the streets, drinking, Mr Keon said.

They drink on the street with no regard for traffic or police.

Just the other night I saw a guy get his shoes stolen and then he was bashed up on the street. And I had to get my security guards to walk a couple of people home one night because they were scared for their safety. We need to act as a community to fix this.

He said about half of the troublemakers were under-age. Most of the ones old enough to legally drink had never set foot in the hotel because they were too drunk to be allowed in.

There are currently no alcohol-free zones in the Ballina Shire, however alcohol is prohibited under the Local Government Act in all parks and reserves from 10pm to 7am. Steve Parry, the licensing supervisor for the Richmond Local Area Command, said the ban was something he had wanted for a long time.

It would give police the power to fine the offender and confiscate the alcohol on the spot, he said.

At the moment we are powerless to do anything unless the offender is under age, he said.

It would help control the alcohol-related antisocial behaviour that is on the streets at the moment, and which needs to be addressed.

Treudie Kaehler, from Flowers in Paradise, said she would support a ban on alcohol in Ballina?s main street.

Every Saturday and Monday morning when we get to work we have to clean our front windows, because over the weekend people have spat on them, thrown alcohol at them, and vomited all over the place,? she said.

Ms Kaehler said she had also had trouble with youths climbing on her shop?s roof, into the backyard and smashing her pot plants.

Donna and Wayne Faulkner, of Brumby?s Bakery Ballina, agreed and said intoxicated people frequently smashed windows and pulled plants out of the gardens on River Street. Brendan Byrne, of the Australian Hotel, said he would like to see it extended farther than River Street.

Council's acting general manager Paul Hickey said police were in the process of lodging a submission and that council staff would then prepare a report. The matter was likely to go to council in April or May.



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