After five years of lock-out laws with the cessation of alcohol sales at 3am impacting the Kings Cross precinct, the golden mile has been transformed. Our area is safer, our drinking culture has changed.
Monday’s final recommendations by the Joint Night-Time Economy (NTE) Panel should reflect a willingness to relax lock-out laws not only in Sydney’s CBD but in Kings Cross too. We’re asking the NSW Government to amend other licensing restrictions in Kings Cross such as shots after midnight for pubs and clubs, and a clear reform agenda that involves more than the relocation of dormant liquor licenses (Recommendation 35).
If Kings Cross continues with the most stringent lockouts in the country, what are the incentives to bring back tourists and patrons back to the precinct? The NSW Government should look to creating a fair and balanced night-time economy that seeks to enhance new and transformed businesses in the Kings Cross precinct. We are faced with a situation that punishes businesses for a problem that no longer exists.
We are deeply concerned that our area will further decay as the NTE Panel did not address specific and red tape issues in the Kings Cross precinct that we have continued to highlight. These include:
We look forward to the Government’s proposed changes to the legislation and will work with the Government on any bill to be put forward. We implore the Government to not let small business down in the Cross. New and transformed experiential small businesses in the Cross have behaved and abided by the liquor licensing laws since the lockouts. Businesses want to get ahead and showcase a new and improved destination to experience and to demonstrate that we’re open for business.
GOOD RECOMMENDATIONS THAT WILL IMPROVE KINGS CROSS
The NTE Panel has put forward many good recommendations. We welcome the proposed Recommendation 29 to remove ID scanners from mixed food and alcohol venues in the Kings Cross precinct from Sunday to Thursdays. However, on Fridays and Saturdays ID scanners should be enforced from midnight, not 10pm.
From the beginning of this year we have campaigned strongly to the NSW Government for their removal. These inhibiting business devices have impacted locals from attending local venues and groups of patrons entering into venues when one person may not have a form of ID. Vendors don’t support digital ID, and ID scanners are a huge cost to business given they are required at multiple entrances, staff must be trained to use them and they require ongoing operational costs.
We’re thrilled to see the NTE Panel make recommendations to enhance small bars. Recommendation 21 asks the NSW Government to increase small bar patronage from 100 to 130 – we wholly support this proposal. Also, small bars are burdened with security measures at a certain capacity and the NTE Panel addresses this impact in Recommendation 22. In addition, Recommendation 23 will help small bars get ahead and innovate their businesses as the Panel has sought a reduction in license fees. We commend the Panel on these important reform recommendations that should see Sydney’s small bar culture flourish into the future.
We acknowledge that transportation plays a vital role in helping patrons get to the end destination after a night out (Recommendation 34) and we support enhancing our two existing taxi ranks in Darlinghurst Road and Bayswater Road.
We strongly agree with the NTE Panel (Recommendation 7) that the City of Sydney Council needs to invest more in streetscaping for the precinct and we’re pleased to see the Panel has heard the people and businesses on these issues. We implore the City of Sydney to act fast to address these issues and to take another serious look at their 2020 street signage strategy as it has fallen by the wayside in Kings Cross, particularly from a tourism perspective. Furthermore, we would like to see City of Sydney implement a moratorium on outdoor dining fees for the next 12 months in the precinct and work on better solutions around noise complaints around outdoor dining. One complaint should not prevent a business from increasing their outdoor seating.
We’re pleased the NTE Panel (Recommendation 8 & 9) addressed in our submission a ‘Good Neighbour’ policy and addresses protecting established businesses. For too long it has been unclear as to how levels of government address vexatious noise complaints. We look forward to the NSW Government’s and City of Sydney’s revised plan for our NTE.
Finally, we applaud the NTE Panel for all other recommendations and highlight Recommendation 18 of significant importance to the Kings Cross and Potts Point Precinct. While we believe it is the role of our business community to shape the future of our precinct, we request the State Government look to this recommendation and help us transition into an exciting dining, cultural, entertainment and heritage destination that we can again showcase to the world.
We thank the NTE Panel for their hard work and determination to make Sydney’s night-time economy number one again. There really is no other place in Australia to experience than Sydney, when all its night-time cylinders are firing again.
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