Battleline

By JADE BILOWOL

DISGRUNTLED Surfers Paradise residents have drawn the community's battleline against what has been labelled a serious crime problem underlying the glitter strip's nightclub and bar culture.

The Surfers Paradise Community Association (SPCA) has applied for a $150,000 National Community Crime Prevention Program grant to boost its plans to stamp out alleged "organised crime and violence".

SPCA chairman John Hill said while the group's members had welcomed the 3am nightclub lockout, more needed to be done to arrest the dangers of alcohol binge drinking, drug dealing and "bash gangs" in light of recent Brisbane CBD deaths.

Mr Hill claimed SPCA members had uncovered massive deception, graft and corruption within the nightclub, development and real estate industries, and intended lodging an official complaint with the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission and Ombudsman.

"We will be seeking advice and requesting that an independent commission inquiry be conducted immediately on the issues raised," he said

While Mr Hill said he could not reveal specific examples of alleged corruption, he said the group had applied for the grant to assist in:

o?Helping the police implement a "Making Your Community Safer" project,

o?Pressuring the Queensland Government to introduce laws with zero tolerance on violence and organised crime.

Mr Bell said Mr Hill had no right to attack the nightclubs and his accusations of organised crime were untrue and offensive.

"He should let the young ones who are entitled to enjoy themselves be, they are just starting out their lives.

"Ninety-three per cent of people drink before they hit the nightclubs and yet the nightclubs are getting the blame," Mr Bell added.

He said the 3am lockout was slowly suffocating the nightclub scene.

"It doesn't stop the problem, it just shifts it elsewhere," Mr Bell said.

He said patronage in Surfers Paradise had dropped 50 per cent as people opted to stay at home instead of head out later at night.

"There has been a 25 to 35 per cent dip in turnover ? I walked from Orchid Avenue and through Cavill at 2.36am on a Saturday night recently and I had to get my magnifying glass out ? I counted 19 people," Mr Bell said.



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