Residents of Kings Cross, Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay, Rushcutters Bay and Woolloomooloo
The following letter by 2011RA member Patrick McGrath was published in the Wentworth Courier
2nd November 2011
Who’ll fix The Cross?
It’s easy to snipe at Kings Cross residents when you live a safe distance away from ground zero (Ian Black, Letters, Oct 26).
I don’t have an axe to grind, I just want to see responsible Local Government. City of Sydney, under Clover Moore, has created a monster in Kings Cross by approving licensed venues that now overrun this once-quaint village. Moore’s mission to transform Sydney into a ‘City of Villages’ has seen Kings Cross become her flagship ‘Village of the Damned’ thanks to the mix of drugs and alcohol, open round-the-clock for all. And what a marvellous postcard image it makes for Sydney: by day overrun by brawling junkies and street drinkers in this so-called ‘Alcohol-Free Zone’, while come nightfall these sad souls are replaced by hordes of screaming drunk youths who on weekends become a flood until 5 or 6 am, fighting, brawling, spewing, urinating (and worse) on our front steps, in our back lanes, underneath our bedroom and living-room windows. And what does City of Sydney do to try to reverse this tide? Provide portable footpath urinals to catch the overflow! Class act Clover!
I’m surprised Ian Black didn’t ask the hoary old question, ‘Well, why did you move there in the first place?’ Easy: when I came to the Cross over 12 years ago it was relatively quiet, quirky – and yes, village-like! – with just 3 watering holes on Darlinghurst Rd (the B&B near the fountain, Sports Bar near the station, and Fishbowl opposite the Coke sign). In between were typical ‘village’ businesses – banks, florist, ice-cream parlour, fast-photo shop, etc – plus a few seedy sex clubs whose customers disappeared quietly into the night. Since then, thanks to Cover Moore’s and Suzie Matthew’s attempts to inject a ‘vibrant nightlife’ into the Cross by approving a never-ending stream of DAs for licensed premises, the village shops have been eaten up and turned into all-night bars, clubs and mega-pubs, at last count numbering more than 130 licensed premises in the Cross, and emptying onto the streets the equivalent of Sydney Football stadium on weekends, a statistic that Council’s own research threw up (an appropriate term I think).
I don’t care what people do inside the pubs and clubs – that’s their business. But when they bring their particular brand of street trash onto our residential streets, back lanes and front steps at 3 and 4am – or any time – then this ‘Free Alcohol Zone’ becomes a No-Go Zone for residents. That’s all happened under the watch of Moore and Matthews. And no matter how much they attempt to deflect real public concern with headline-grabbing announcements of more mobile urinals(!) and meagre late-night transport options, the real issue remains the saturation of licensed venues and drinking hours. Even Council’s own research this year has found “there is a strong association between clusters of licensed venues and increased violence and other undesirable impacts” (Open Sydney, pg 34) and “There is much research linking later closing times with higher levels of alcohol-related violence, alcohol-related hospital admissions, drink-driving and other problems. Earlier closing times are linked to reductions in these problems, as noted in Newcastle, NSW where reducing trading hours from 5am to 3am led to a 37 per cent reduction in assaults” (pg 41).
It’s not rocket science. So who’s going to have the guts to tackle the problem?