Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore today said the Government's plan to fix Kings Cross failed to tackle the biggest issues needed for real change - a comprehensive management plan, mass transport and regulatory reform.
She also warned that the Government's plan to change legislation to cap small bars at 60 patrons would hurt the small bar industry.
"Instead of focussing on the big picture, this Government has focussed on small bars with a proposal that could cripple the growing industry," the Lord Mayor said.
"If you love small bars, and many Sydneysiders do because they offer a civilised alternative to big beer barns, then you should be very alarmed by what the Government is trying to do.
"While the City supports limiting the size of small bars to 120 patrons as is outlined in our own planning instruments, a limit of 60 patrons is not a viable option for many businesses.
"The fact is everyone knows small bars are not the cause of the problems in Kings Cross. There are only two small bars there but there are many large venues that cater for thousands of people."
The Lord Mayor said while there are a range of sensible proposals in the Government's package, the plan doesn't go far enough.
"We welcome plans to install a system of linked ID scanners in licensed premises in the Cross, as long as it is accompanied by legislation that ensures appropriate storage of the data and protection of people's privacy," the Lord Mayor said.
"We also support the high visibility policing, extra taxi marshals and the pre paid taxi trial, the extension of the freeze on new liquor outlets for three years and the creation of a sobering-up centre.
"But what we really need is an overall Kings Cross management plan and reform of licensing and planning laws to address the problem of the saturation of large, late-trading licensed premises. There are simply too many venues, selling too much alcohol for too many hours in Kings Cross.
"Current planning laws mean the City can't refuse a development application for a new venue on the grounds of there being too many already, without ending up in the Land and Environment Court, where we often lose.
"The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing is conducting research into the density of liquor outlets in the state. We look forward to that research and strongly hope it is accompanied by regulatory reform.
"Much of the violence and anti-social behaviour stems from having large numbers of intoxicated people spilling out onto the streets in the early hours of the morning with not enough transport to get them home safely.
"That's why we urged the NSW Government to trial a "Late Night City Sprint" train service that would travel one-way out of Kings Cross on Friday and Saturday nights. It would be an important safety valve to relieve the pressure of thousands of people caught in the Cross late at night.
"More buses and taxis will help, but more mass transport train services are what's really needed to manage the tens of thousands of people out on the streets.
"If the NSW Government is going to allow 24-hour trading at licensed premises, then we need 24-hour transport."
The City has been working with the Department of Premier and Cabinet on a plan for Kings Cross since July 2012, following the tragic death of Thomas Kelly. This lobbying follows extensive research and community consultation the City has done over the past 18 months.
"We suggested more than 30 actions that could be taken across both tiers of government, and we are already doing our part," the Lord Mayor said.
"In recent months, we have increased the City's CCTV cameras in the Cross, put a NSW Police officer in our security control room on Friday and Saturday nights, and imposed an alcohol-free zone across the whole area.
"But the things that are going to make the biggest difference in Kings Cross are controlled by the NSW Government - including transport, police and reform of planning and licensing laws.
"The City of Sydney is committed to working with the NSW Government, NSW Police licensees and the community make Kings Cross a safer and better functioning place for residents, businesses and visitors."
MEDIA CONTACT: Shehana Teixeira 0418 238 373 or firstname.lastname@example.org