By Clyde Mooney
Licensed premises cannot be held responsible for violence in Sydney's Kings Cross entertainment district, according to AHA NSW boss Paul Nicolaou, who has joined with a prominent Kings Cross publican in calling for greater CCTV coverage of the area and improved transport options.
In a frenetic week of media coverage following a fatal assault on teenager Thomas Kelly last Saturday night, blame has swiftly been apportioned to venues serving alcohol in the area.
But CEO of the AHA NSW, Paul Nicolaou, yesterday said inadequate CCTV coverage and transport options are the real cause of the problems.
"It has been too easy to simply blame licensed premises for too long without any attention being paid to the very obvious problems in places like Kings Cross – problems with late night transport, pre-fuelling and people mixing drugs with alcohol in particular," he said.
Today City of Sydney Council announced an action plan for Kings Cross including major event-style policing on Friday and Saturday nights, increased Council powers to limit licences and a range of new transport measure with 'sprint' bus services between the Cross and Town Hall.
Yesterday the City announced it would install within a month an additional six CCTV cameras it approved last March, taking the total for the area to nine.
Andrew Gibbs, CEO of Solotel, proprietor of the Kings Cross Hotel, told TheShout that the problems in the area are all occurring outside licensed venues.
"There are no Kings Cross venues on Level one or Level two of the NSW violent venues list – this would indicate the problems in Kings Cross are not occurring within venues but on the streets.
"You always see a lot of underage kids on the streets, many of whom are obviously affected by alcohol or drugs.
"Transport options are at best poor, which leads to frustration and violence particularly at taxi ranks.
"The CCTV coverage in Kings Cross is very poor. Police generally rely on footage from venues when investigating incidents that take place on the street."
In news just released, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore is meeting with Paul Nicolaou to discuss new solutions including the possible introduction of 24-hour transport.