In court on Monkey business
By HELEN JACK firstname.lastname@example.org THE licensee of Byron Bay's Cheeky Monkeys nightclub will face a Sydney court on April 7 charged with breaching his licensing agreement.
Tim Sharman has pleaded not guilty to two charges, including permitting intoxicated behaviour within the licensed premises in December last year and another of trading after 10pm without regular security guard patrols a month earlier.
NSW Liquor, Gaming and Racing spokesman Mark Nolan said the breaches arose during intensified surveillance of Byron Bay licensed premises by the Byron Bay Alcohol Response Taskforce.
He said the taskforce began in July last year in response to 2006 statistics identifying the town as one of the worst hot spots in NSW for alcohol-related violence.
The start of the taskforce coincided with Mr Sharman taking over as Cheeky Monkeys' licensee.
Since then the venue had turned around its reputation as one of the most violent in Byron Bay, reducing alcohol related incidents by 81 per cent in partnership with the Beach Hotel and the Great Northern Hotel.
Mr Sharman said he was unable to comment on the charges because the matter was still before the court.
"I am disappointed," he said. "We have moved past this and are now the best venue in Byron Bay.
"I think we were targeted because of the club's high level of alcohol- related violence statistics in 2006 before I took over.
"Cheeky Monkeys is the only late night venue open six nights a week until 3am, making us the busiest venue after the Beach Hotel shuts.
"We have different demands and we have still managed to reduce our statistics."
Mr Nolan said Mr Sharman and his team had worked hard to improve the venue's statistics.
Since the taskforce began last year Mr Sharman said he had voluntarily introduced an 1800 hotline which residents living close to the venue could call if they saw alcohol-related violence or behaviour.
He said the Cheeky Monkey security guards would respond to the calls.
He said the hotline had received a lot of praise from residents, which he believed was more effective than regular patrols by private security firms.