Coffs Hotel eighth most dangerous

THE popular Coffs Hotel has found itself in the NSW spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

The busy pub is the eighth most violent venue in the State according to a hit-list of dangerous pubs and clubs released by the NSW Government.

The Coffs Hotel has recorded 19 serious incidents in the past 12 months, the data says, but it’s still way behind the worst venue in NSW, the Mean Fiddler at Rouse Hill with 53.

Reporter Craig McTear spoke with Coffs Hotel licensee Martyn Phillips yesterday about his hotel’s ranking, the reasons behind it and the way forward.

 

Q. Are you disappointed to find you are in the top 10 most violent pubs in the State?

A. Absolutely, especially because we have put so many strategies in place to prevent assaults from happening.

Q. Do the figures tell the true story at your pub?

A. I totally disapprove of some of the alleged assaults, including a drink-spike with no toxicity tests. In another incident recorded as an assault, a security guard was slapped on the shoulder by a female patron and he reported it to police.

Another incident recorded as an assault was when a heavily intoxicated man fell outside the hotel. In some of the instances reported as assault they have not been charged with assault.

If you have a big event on and you have no incidents, do you put it down to good management, good luck or no bad drugs in town.

When there’s bad drugs in town there are assaults across the city.

Q. What measures do you have in place to curb instances of alcohol abuse?

A. We have a midnight lockout which should be implemented by all licensed premises throughout town under the Liquor Accord; we don’t do shots at all; we don’t do doubles at all; we promote food and have someone selling food on premises; we give away food after midnight; we promote water, and; we promote safe transport home.

 

Q. Do you think the notoriety will affect your business?

A. No. I feel we are being penalised because of our popularity.

It’s comparable to more traffic incidents happening on the Pacific Highway because of the sheer volume of vehicles compared to incidents happening in a back lane or back road.

Q. Are you expecting further conditions on your licence?

A. No. I think everything is in place at the moment.

We really have to rely on society to do the right thing in their chosen venue, otherwise things will change and the good times will cease.

The minority of assaults reported to police across Coffs/Clarence are happening on licensed premises.

Q. How has this report personally affected you?

A. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I don’t think the hotel should be perceived to be a violent venue – we have sporting groups and elderly people who frequent here and on weekends the majority are female clientele.

The Government has to take some sort of action (on anti-social behaviour) but I feel publicans have had such a gutful that they will leave the industry in droves and it will be run by cowboys.

Q. Are you satisfied the conduct and practices of your security staff are adequate?

A. I would like to see them supported more by the Government because, after all, they are enforcing the laws that the Government has put in place.

Q. Do you think the criteria for assessment on this list is fair?

A. When someone has been charged with assaulting someone on my premises I will cop that but when it is perceived to be linked to the hotel when someone is walking on the street causing trouble, no, definitely not.

This is classed as a direct link to the hotel. This is what we have to face. People are bringing domestic problems into my hotel.

Q. During the next six months, what extra steps will you take to reduce this figure (incidents reported)?

A. I will continue to bar people for fighting inside and outside the pub, for displaying aggressive behaviour and for continually causing problems. I have barred something like 6000 people since I took the pub over in 1996.

Q. Should patrons have any concerns about their safety while visiting your premises?

A. If that does become a case they should report it to a security guard or duty manager. We will deal with the problem. Don’t take it into your own hands.



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