Calls to clean up Kings Cross
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has come under renewed pressure to help put an end to alcohol-fuelled violence on the streets of Kings Cross following a deadly unprovoked attack on a teenager on what was his first ever visit to the famous entertainment district.
The senseless attack on 18-year-old Thomas Kelly on Victoria Street just after 10pm on Saturday, July 7 has led to many within the local community calling for change, with statistics showing on average there are 40 assaults, fights or other serious incidents of anti-social behaviour every Friday and Saturday night in Kings Cross.
A few nights after Kelly’s bashing, a 40-year-old Darlinghurst man was arrested after he ‘glassed’ another patron inside a Kings Cross hotel.
While there are plans for more CCTV in the area, local business groups as well as City of Sydney are calling for the urgent formulation of a state co-ordinated management plan involving transport and police for weekends similar to those that operate during major events.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore was also joined by the Australian Hotels Association president Paul Nicolaou last Friday to call for better public transport options as well as the immediate introduction of a late night sprint train that would take crowds from Kings Cross to Town Hall where buses would be waiting to take them home.
“It’s time for the Premier to use his power to make real change at the Cross possible,” Moore said.
“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.”
Police have also been forced to defend their ability to enforce the law in the area on weekend nights, saying resources have to be spread across the entire city.
Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch said the reasons behind the continuing violence were already well known to the State Government and included an oversaturation of licensed venues, questionable operating hours, poor public transport as well as a minority of young men who “go out with the intention of belting someone”.
“We get all these people up to Kings Cross and they stay there because the places stay open and then we turn the transport off,” Murdoch added.
“We can get them there but we can’t get them out and there is just no motivation for people to leave the area and go home.”
Adrian Bartels, president of the Potts Point Partnership business group said although he agreed there were too many licensed venues it was more important for a proper plan to be put in place to deal with the large amounts of people who came into the area on the weekend.
“So it’s no surprise that there’s violence in the streets when you’ve got 25,000 to 30,000 people inebriated to various degrees on drugs and alcohol, spilling out of the clubs where there’s no transport, too few police and no co-ordination of anything,” he told reporters.
“We should be looking to Berlin, Paris and London for ideas.”
Last month, the NSW Government announced that a freeze on new liquor licences in entertainment precincts would be extended for six months to help complete a density study due for release later this year.