A public forum was held at the Kings Cross Hotel and presented by FBi Radio and Time Out Sydney. It comes after the death of Thomas Kelly who was hit in the head in an unprovoked attack.
Angus Fontaine, Publishing Director for Time Out Sydney magazine, chaired the panel. He asked the rhetorical question, “Is Kings Cross a party zone or is Kings Cross a danger zone?”
The venue for the event was the second floor of the Kings Cross Hotel, where the FBi Social live music events are held.
The atmosphere was rather different to the previous public forum held at the Sydney Town Hall. This time alcohol was on sale and the event was smaller, cosier and much less formal.
There was a much more vocal representation of the sorts of people who attend live music venues. Though some stalwart local residents had turned up to ensure that their message was not overlooked.
More CCTV needed
Andrew Gibbs, CEO of the Solotel Hotel Group, which owns the Kings Cross Hotel and several others, believed that the problem was on the streets, not in the venues and said that more CCTV was needed. They were constantly being asked for CCTV footage but he believed that there should be more council operated CCTV.
He suggested, what he called the ‘idiot factor’ was a problem and he mentioned the effects of the drug ‘ice’. He thought that there was less violence these days, but it was more intense.
Some of the panel mentioned the cultural issues around alcohol. They compared the drink hard culture in Australia to that of other countries around the world where alcohol is consumed more sensibly.
Martin O’Sullivan pointed out that there were no small bar licences in Kings Cross. It had been suggested by James Arvanitakis that they had a more ‘chilled out’ atmosphere.
Audit of licensed premises in Kings Cross
Lord Mayor Clover Moore, informed everyone that an audit of licensed bars in the Kings Cross area had found lots of breaches. Hospitality Minister, George Souris, had committed to the inspections at the previous public forum on 17 July.
Other matters raised
A local member of the audience said that there was no management plan.
A female resident of Kings Cross questioned why there were so many drunken people being served at bars when this is illegal. Andrew Gibbs, on the panel thought that much of this was due to youngsters getting drunk from their own alcohol whilst travelling to the Cross.
One member of the audience told a complaining resident to move out if they didn’t like it. A resident responded by making the point that it had been a residential area for a long time and was the highest concentration of residents in the country.
Left to right: Angus Fontaine – host for the evening (Publishing Director for Time Out) Jack Tregoning (Editor of Inthemix), Dr James Arvanitakis (Sociologist), Matthew Noffs (Co-founder of The Street University in Liverpool in Sydney’s South West), Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore (long time Redfern resident), Cassandra (Cass) Wilkinson (Co-founder and President of FBi Radio), Martin O’Sullivan (President of the Small Bars Association NSW) and Andrew Gibbs, (Solotel CEO).