This morning I joined the CEO of the AHA Paul Nicolaou to call on the Premier to finally take urgent action needed in Kings Cross.
(Image: with Paul Nicolaou this morning in Kings Cross)
The City has been making changes in Kings Cross for two years and we have 30 different actions underway such as late night ambassadors in the peak summer period. However we have limited power when it comes to the big issues that can make real differences like licensing and transport.
We've spent the last 18 months researching what other cities do, speaking to thousands of people to find out what kind of late night city they want and working with residents, business, NSW Police, late trading venues, accommodation services, government agencies and academics to develop a late night plan for Sydney.
We know what needs to be done and we have a plan to do it. The City of Sydney is taking action in areas where we have responsibility and we want the NSW Government to take action, including changing laws, in the areas they are responsible such as licensing, transport, policing, environmental protection and most importantly the cumulative impact of too many venues in one area, such as in Kings Cross.
The City's action list includes:
- A state co-ordinated management plan involving transport and Police for Kings Cross on a Friday and Saturday night, just like there is for NYE and other major events;
- Legislative change to the NSW Liquor and Planning Act so that Councils can say when an area has reached saturation point in terms of the number of late night venues such as in Kings Cross;
- More late night transport including a trial of late night sprint service of one-way trains out of the Cross straight to Town Hall where they can connect with extra night ride buses. Extra Police and security will be needed at the stations to ensure people are safe. If successful, this trial should be extended to a permanent 24 hour service.
- The removal of legislative barriers for private bus operators so they can operate late at night;
- Improved operation and security on the Bayswater Rd taxi rank;
- The introduction of prepay option for taxis;
- Streamlining the process people have to go through when there are noise impacts; and
- The introduction of renewable licensing permits like in other global late night cities - London, New York and Paris.
Much of the violence and anti-social behaviour in Kings Cross stems from having large numbers of people spilling out onto the streets at one time with no transport to get them home.
If the State legislation allows for a 24 hour city then we need 24 hour transport.
The saturation of licensed venues in Kings Cross is serious. Current planning laws mean the City can't refuse a development application for a new venue when an area has reached saturation point.
We need the State Government to change the Planning Act so councils can say when an area has enough late night venues - when enough is enough!