Friday, February 23, 2024

Alcohol ban off the menu for Tamworth festival

Alcohol may be permitted for outdoor dining venues during the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival as Tamworth Regional Council announces a review of its Footpath Dining Policy.

Following a decision at last night’s Ordinary Meeting, a restriction which had banned outdoor diners from drinking alcohol with their meals during the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival in January was removed.

Tamworth Mayor, Russell Webb said the policy was holding back opportunities for people to have a full range of beverage choices when enjoying great food on offer at local restaurants and cafes.

“The rule served its purpose when the policy started in 1996 as a mechanism to stem anti-social behaviour during the Festival, but Councillors agreed tonight it was time for it to go,” he said.

“When COVID-19 led to the Festival’s postponement this year, it was the first time diners were able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage with their meal during the Festival – and there was no up-swing in anti-social behaviour.

“Outdoor dining is very popular and our local restaurants and cafés should not be held back in catering for their customers.”

A Footpath Dining Policy Review Report considered by Council said local hospitality sector representatives recently raised the issue of permitting alcohol to be consumed with a meal at outdoor dining areas during the Festival. They also asked Council to consider removing the rules where alcohol may only be consumed in outdoor dining areas by patrons who are also eating a meal.

Council Manager Compliance, Ross Briggs said Council will from tomorrow seek community feedback about whether they want further amendments to the Footpath Dining Policy to allow outdoor dining patrons to consume alcoholic drinks without ordering a meal.

“The NSW Government has a focus on promoting and expanding alfresco dining, particularly following on from the significant effects COVID-19 had on the hospitality industry,” he said.

“And eating outdoors certainly seems to be a growing part of today’s lifestyle for people of all ages.”

The Council report said the local hospitality industry wants to create a “cosmopolitan and progressive atmosphere within in the CBD.

The Mayor and senior council officers have met with representatives of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to seek advice about the possible policy change. Feedback has also been requested from the local hospitality industry and police.

The Council report said hospitality industry representatives indicated they are confident any policy change would be able to be managed through Responsible Service of Alcohol, supervision by staff and other measures.

Feedback from police included concerns about the proposal to remove the requirement for a meal to be served with alcohol. Police say statistics show that anti-social incidents are minimised when food is served with alcohol.

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