To fix Kings Cross, we need transport to get people home, liquor and planning reform, noise protection and a proper management plan.
The City's doing what it can, but the key steps to improve safety in Kings Cross are State responsibilities - liquor licensing, transport, policing, environmental protection and, importantly, the cumulative impact of too many venues in the area.
The city is part of a working group auspiced by the department of premier and cabinet to find solutions.
Following my meeting with the Premier I have written to him strongly recommending the following:
1. Transport reform
- "Late Night City Sprint" train service trial during summer, running Kings Cross to Town Hall/Central Station (one way) on Friday and Saturday nights, with improved transport signage for King Cross, Town Hall and Central Stations
- Long-term, Sydney needs 24 hour public transport
- Private shuttle bus services by commercial operators enabled by amending existing anti-competitive provisions in the Passenger Transport Act
- Strategic taxi improvements, including professional security guards at the Bayswater Road secure taxi rank; cheap part time taxi plates for Friday and Saturday nights to meet problems with supply at critical times; and pre-pay taxi fares after midnight.
2. Liquor reform
- Kings Cross liquor freeze zone expanded from Darlinghurst Road and Bayswater Road to prevent liquor licence approvals in surrounding residential streets, as the City originally proposed
- A licensing permit system, where liquor licences are issued every one to two years as is the case in other cities, including New York, Amsterdam and Vancouver.
3. Planning and licensing "saturation" legislation to address the cumulative impacts of a concentration of late night licensed premises by enabling Councils and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing to refuse further applications in identified areas.
4. A triaged, coordinated complaints management system, especially for noise problems, where complaints are handled via a "one-stop shop". The system of noise control is confusing, with multiple agencies and all levels of Government.
5. A coordinated management plan for Kings Cross, with a high level Executive Group including relevant State agencies and local government representation, to quickly respond to and resolve late trading issues on an ongoing basis.
The City has three CCTV cameras (installed 2006), new Public Space Liaison Officers (from 2007), a Precinct Licensed Premises Coordinator (engaged 2008), weekend closures of Cowper Wharf Road to deter hoons (since 2009), proactive inspection of trial consents and footway seating (beginning 2009), enhanced street cleansing (introduced 2011), trial of temporary urinals (2011), and improved lighting in various locations this year.
New measures being implemented by the City include:
- A dedicated enforcement "hot team" in Kings Cross on Friday/Saturday nights
- A dedicated Kings Cross Night Services Manager for Friday/Saturday nights
- Redesign of the Bayswater Road taxi rank to reduce queuing time
- New "who to call" information for local residents and businesses
- Deployment of precinct ambassadors over summer.
With the recent investment in six new CCTV cameras for Kings Cross, this new City of Sydney action is valued at $1.1 million.