ORANGE City Council has approved extended trading hours for an upstairs area of The Occidental Hotel despite police showing damning footage of drunken patrons fighting with a staff member.
In an unprecedented move Canobolas Local Area Command showed councillors footage from January 13 from a CCTV camera directly outside the pub. It showed an RSA marshal and a patron pushing, shoving and wrestling for about two minutes before a second patron jumps in and punches the other patron who falls backwards and hits his head against the wall and the ground.
The fight was allowed to continue for at least four minutes before security attended by which time one man was left bleeding on the footpath.
Canobolas LAC Superintendent David Driver said he was disgusted by the actions of the staff because police were not called to attend.
Minutes after the fight finished staff were filmed washing away the blood.
“They washed away the evidence, normally that area would be treated as a crime scene,” he said,
“Their actions would have compromised an investigation.”
The Occidental Hotel had been operating the upstairs area under a 12-month trial. During the trial the sale of alcohol ceased at midnight.
The application before council was about allowing the pub to move the dance floor area upstairs where they would be permitted to sell alcohol until 3am.
The Occidental Hotel general manager Don Sholte, who spoke at the meeting, was shocked by the footage.
“I want to start by saying wow,” he said.
“No doubt what happened on that footage was despicable, absolutely.”
Mr Sholte said he was caught unaware that police had intended to show the footage.
“While all that was happening it is my understanding that one or several police officers were across the road watching it all happen,” Mr Sholte said.
Canobolas LAC Detective Inspector Denise Godden said there was no evidence to say police officers were across the street.
Mr Sholte said the footage was not an accurate depiction of a typical night at The Occidental.
The footage also showed a staff member of The Occidental Hotel allegedly allowing one of the men involved in the assault back into the pub after curfew and a covert sale of a bottle of vodka at 2.57am by the duty manager.
Mayor John Davis said while the footage was deplorable, it was not council’s role to make a judgment on the applicant, rather council was only required to assess the application.
He said any consent would be for the building and not the licensee, as licensing and conduct was a matter for the police and the relevant authority.
“The fact is I was embarrassed by that footage,” he said.
“We should have seen a full 10 hours ... we don’t know if there were police patrols et cetera.”
Cr Neil Jones said the application was not black and white and council needed to make a moral judgment.
“They had a 12-month trial and it is clear they have failed that trial,” he said.
Office has the final say
THE Occidental Hotel would have to apply to the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing to amend their liquor licence to allow them to serve alcohol until 3am upstairs.
If a request is received by the office from The Occidental Hotel, Superintendent David Driver said police would make a submission similar to the one made to council.
It usually takes six weeks for the office to process a request once submissions are made.