Edward Mandla
Kings Cross Alcohol Precinct Street Shutdown

Published On: 14/10/2013

If I was a hotel owner, I’d be pretty excited about the possibility of closing Darlinghurst Road.

More space, creates a carnival atmosphere and attracts more clients. To me, it seems that “we’re going to be putting sugar on the picnic table”.

And let’s face it, the City of Sydney hasn’t exactly had the Midas touch when it comes to Kings Cross.

The initial CCTV rollout was slow and too narrow.

And the City ultimately caused the drinking problem “as it all starts here with a DA”.

So, the venue proprietors must be rubbing their hands in glee hoping for this one to get through.

Too often the City says, we have to do something, the staff have done a great job, it’s just a trial, Councillors let’s just give it a go, but we’re playing with fire in the Cross.

We have to be so sure that what we’re trialling works because lives are at stake. We’re not trialling a community garden here – we’re trialling something that could enable a riot where people could be permanently injured or worse.

We get briefed on all manner of things in Council. Some important and some are a bit of a waste of time.

This is one of the most important items to be handled this year, and I’m surprised there have been no briefings, no opportunity to hear from the experts, no time to carefully weigh up options.

I first heard of this item, when emails started to come through from the community on Thursday.

The way I see it, the City Of Sydney has a stated goal of reducing the number of patrons in the Kings Cross Alcohol precinct.

You can’t trial anything where the results might be contrary to that goal.

Our own risk assessment states there’s a risk that:

  1. The Darlinghurst Road closure may serve as an attractor, and the area may experience an increase in pedestrian volumes; and
  2. Either or both of the temporary road closures may increase traffic congestion, resulting in the impediment of emergency vehicle access into the area.

What we need is a cultural change and as Dr Alex Wodak just rightly said – there are three levers – fewer outlets, shorter hours and less liberal conditions – these are the areas we must strategically attack. I'm not going to brainstorm here but we could do things to challenge the venues - to compete with them. So it's wrong to say we can't address the levers. As a speaker just said was we could create a carnival atmosphere and alternatives for people 40+. That's a more strategic way to align to the levers than shutting a road.

I can’t vote for this item as it is too rushed, too risky and too narrow.

We just heard more work needs to be done. So do it - back to the drawing board.

Edward Mandla
October 2013

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