News & Media Releases
New Year’s Eve to be alcohol free in Yarra’s public places
20 August 2014
Edinburgh Gardens and other public places in Yarra are set to be “alcohol free” on New Year’s Eve 14/15 following a Yarra City Council decision last night.
Mayor Cr Jackie Fristacky said Council’s decision followed advice from Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, the Police Association, local residents and council officers about risks in allowing alcohol at Edinburgh Gardens on New Year’s Eve.
“Council was faced with a difficult decision because we know many people enjoyed New Year’s Eve at Edinburgh Gardens and did not personally experience problems there last year,” Cr Fristacky said.
“Unfortunately, we also received disturbing reports from police, ambulance officers and local residents of assaults, vandalism and anti-social behaviour in and around the Gardens and on private property as a result of over-consumption of alcohol and illicit drug taking on the night,” she said.
“A key problem was the unmanageable numbers swelling in excess of 15,000 as social media filtered across Melbourne inviting people to unauthorised music events at the Gardens who bought with them large quantities of alcohol.
“This created huge problems in accessing the additional bins, toilets and facilities organised by Council for the summer holiday period.
“Council has a responsibility to ensure our parks, gardens, local streets and public places are safe and accessible for the whole community and that we have appropriate strategies in place to manage risk,” she said.
Cr Fristacky said Yarra is not alone in banning alcohol. In fact, Councils right across Victoria have no alcohol in public places on New Year’s Eve, including Melbourne, Port Phillip and Maribyrnong.
Bans have also been introduced in areas where there have been major incidents on New Year’s Eve in the past including Bass Coast (Phillip Island and Inverloch), Mornington Peninsula (Rosebud, Rye, Sorrento and Portsea) and Surf Coast Shire (Lorne and Torquay).
“Council wants Edinburgh Gardens to be a public place where families and friends can meet without anti-social behaviour associated with people drinking too much,” Cr Fristacky said.
Cr Fristacky acknowledged the contribution of members of its Edinburgh Gardens Community Reference Group who met three times and agreed on five key principles for New Year’s Eve celebrations.
These principles included a strong focus on safety and compliance, inclusive celebrations, respect for the park, proper planning and creative solutions.
While the group itself did not reach a consensus on whether or not alcohol should be allowed, it did agree that managing risk and safety was paramount, there should be a no glass rule, people should not be allowed to set up sound systems without a permit and that Edinburgh Gardens is a public park and a valuable community asset that should be respectfully enjoyed by all.
The Community Reference Group also agreed that the magnitude and nature of problems at last New Year’s Eve at Edinburgh Gardens were unsustainable, would erode the park over time, and that respect for the park, the local area and local residents was essential.
They sought improved lighting, signage and amenities on the night, clear communication and management of crowds during the night and importantly, as people leave the Gardens into surrounding residential areas.
Council’s resolution included:
“resolve using Part Two, Clause 8 of Local Law 8 (2009) to declare all public places (roads, parks, and other public places) throughout the entire municipality as ‘alcohol free’ from 9pm 30 December 2014 until 9am on 1st January 2015”.
This means that alcohol is unable to be consumed in Yarra’s public places from Tuesday 30 December 2014 through to 9am Thursday 1 January 2015.
It is estimated to cost $180,000 to implement the alcohol free local law across Yarra on New Year’s Eve including security, cleaning, equipment hire and staff.
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