Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Alcohol Free Zones

Residents and Business owners have backed a Council plan to introduce Alcohol Free Zones (AFZ) in problematic areas of Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. Back in November 2004, Council was presented with 94 Alcohol Free Zone requests across 6 Police Local Area Commands. I was very concerned at the significant expansion of the areas to be covered and the impact on social drinkers and business owners. It was not clear whether a smoker outside a local restaurant with a glass of chardonnay would be committing an offence. In addition there was legitimate concern that the AFZ were being used as a blunt tool to deal with homeless people. Whilst it is an appropriate option for police in dealing with disruptive 'street drinkers' it should not be the primary approach to this serious inner city problem.

The state government should be providing more mental health outreach services and more short and long term stay accommodation for the homeless. As a result of these concerns Council requested a revision of the original 94 proposed Alcohol Free Zones. The revision goes before Council this Monday with a recommendation to implement a revised 43 zones. The report states that the requirements for public and stakeholder consultation under the NSW Local Government Act have been met.

The establishment of AFZ enables the NSW Police to confiscate alcohol from street drinkers to prevent the escalation of intoxication and unruly behaviour. The powers do not apply to licensed footpath areas outside hotels or restaurants. The powers granted to Police via the AFZ may reduce the need to invoke more serious offences. AFZ should primarily be located adjacent to licensed venues according to the Ministerial Guidelines; however some areas have exceptional circumstances.

Staff recommend that Council endorse the Alcohol Free Zones in Kings Cross and Surry Hills and endorse the extension of the Darlinghurst and Kings Cross Road AFZ to include Bayswater Road, Kings Cross. The proposals are strongly supported by local residents and businesses.

AFZ are one strategy to reduce the alcohol-related conflict between City residents, commuters, and visitors. The Safe City and Homelessness Units have jointly produced a draft plan to address street drinking. The report says that the plan uses a long-term, multifaceted, integrated approach to this complex issue. The street drinking plan is an integral part of the Drug and Alcohol Strategy 2005-2010, which is currently being prepared by the Safe City Unit.

Plans (especially 'multifaceted ones) are all very good but residents and business owners want to see a more firm response to heavy drinking on the streets and are appalled and angry at the public displays of violence from street drinkers in their neighbourhood. The State government must respond with more resources to mental health services to assist this group of vulnerable locals.

7 comments:

Peter@Newtown said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Save us the middle calss morality re: " a glass of Chardonnay" nonsense. A drunk holding a glass of chardonnay is no different in their nuisance effect that a drunk holding a Tooheys or two.
Just get them off the streets.

Phil said...

But won't the two new DAs for pubs in Darlinghurst Road Kings Cross, supported by Stephen Carnell's pro-developer business lobby group, just spill more drunks onto the streets?

Phil said...

I thought anonymous blog comments were not permitted on this site. Why then does "anonymous" get their comments permitted?

Shayne Mallard said...

pre dates the policy.