We have the evidence on Kings Cross21 July 2012
The City’s been grappling with problems in Kings Cross for years.
We know there are too many licensed venues in the one area. We know Police are outnumbered – our researchers saw 80 incidents of serious anti-social behaviour in just one hour on a typical Saturday night in Bayswater Road.
We know around 20,000 people are left stranded because there isn’t adequate transport to take them home. We know that over many years successive Governments have softened liquor laws, accepted donations, and handed out lifetime liquor licences.
So what are the answers?
The Government immediately needs to co-ordinate transport and police on a Friday and Saturday night in the same way they do for major events like NYE or Festival First Night.
More than a decade ago the State Government introduced 24 hour licensing. If we are a 24 hour city, then we need 24 hour transport.
On an average Saturday, Darlinghurst Road has 21,600 people from 11pm to 3am – the same number of people at an Allphones Arena event. Yet, the last train from Kings Cross leaves at 1.44am and the next is not until 5.14am.
That’s when numbers of people on the street are at their peak – it’s crowded, people are drunk or on drugs and they’re frustrated they can’t get home easily.
The State must then change the Planning and Liquor Acts to give Councils the power to say when an area has reached capacity – when enough is enough.
Under current legislation Councils must review all development applications we receive. We can’t say, ‘No, there’s too many of these venues in this area’. While councils can consider social impact, it’s a weak provision and in the past when we have refused DAs, they’ve been overturned by the Court.
We know not all venues are complying with RSA guidelines, so we need more incentives for them to do the right thing.
Licensed venues in cities like New York, Paris and Amsterdam operate under renewable licensing permits. They work the same way driver’s licences are issued and that is you must renew your licence regularly.
This system puts the responsibility back on the venues to do the right thing rather than what currently exists – venues are given lifetime licences by the State.
The Government says they want evidence before any meaningful action can be taken but I say we already have all the evidence we need.
The City has spent the last 18 months researching what currently happens and what other cities do. We’ve spoken to thousands of people and worked with residents, business, NSW Police, late trading venues, accommodation services, government agencies and academics. We outlined over 200 actions.
I have given all that work to the Government and I also invite them to head down to the Cross on a Friday or Saturday night between 1am and 5am. I’m sure they’ll find their evidence there.
This was first published in the Daily Telegraph (20/7/12) http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/the-evidence-is-there-to-change-liquor-licensing/story-e6frezz0-1226430350606