Friday, January 25, 2008

Council must do more to prevent violence on Oxford Street


City of Sydney Councillor Shayne Mallard is keeping the pressure on Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP and her City Council with renewed calls for the Council to take positive action to help stop the growing violence against gays and lesbians around Oxford Street.
"Late last year I called upon Lord Mayor and member for Sydney, Clover Moore and her ruling group on the City Council to fund a late night shop front Police station and staff for Oxford Street as an immediate and urgent action to address growing anti social and
homophobic behaviour on the famous entertainment strip," Shayne said.
"Clover Moore refused my proposal and instead offered as an alternative an empty Council shop in the wrong location to be staffed by volunteers,"
"Clover and her group of Councillors waived a vague Police department memo to claim that such a proposal was not permissible. This has since been refuted by the Police
Minister's office."
In the meantime the violence and anti social behaviour that particularly targets gays and lesbians has escalated and appears to have expanded with the appalling homophobic bashing in Crown street several weeks

Shayne Mallard has released his 10 point plan to urgently address the growing violence on the strip:

1. Upgrade CCTV on Oxford street so that all aspects are covered
2. expand CCTV to cover hot spots around Crown, Goulburn, Bourke and Flinders Streets
3. Install more CCTV warning and awareness signs including in venues
4. Fund a trial late night Police front in the midst of the Oxford Street clubs or at Taylor Square
5. Fund trial late night Police overtime for regular patrols of the streets and bars OR
6. Fund trial team of private security guards in direct contact with police to patrol the streets
7. Install panic points at Taylor Square and Crown Street intersections similar to those in China Town where threatened people can be immediately patched through to Police for help
8. develop a policy of incentives to gay bars and clubs on Oxford Street to retain the gay venues
9. develop with the community a gay and lesbian education program about safety awareness and responsibility
10. develop with the community an anti discrimination and anti violence

Shayne defended his plan against critics who claim Council should not be funding State government responsibilities.
"When I last raised the idea of Council stepping in to fund an Oxford street Police shop and Police overtime, Clover and her Councillors ridiculed the idea as cost shifting."
"Council already funds areas that have traditionally been state government
responsibilities including CCTV, homeless services and health care."
Shayne said that after spending $23 million on the Oxford street upgrade the investment in community safety is a small consideration.
"It is time this Council did more than flower boxes, worthy reports and pointing the finger," Shayne concluded.

Shayne Mallard will be addressing the Anti Violence Vigil at Harmony Park, Goulburn Street, Surry Hills this Saturday from 4pm.
23 January 2008


Homophobic violence is looming as the major issue for many of the contenders in the City of Sydney council elections later this year, with the Greens and Liberals calling for new thinking.
NSW Greens leader Lee Rhiannon vowed to make the issue a top priority during the campaign.
“We’re not blaming any specific person for this, but violence is obviously a complex issue and we need to be using all opportunities to raise it,” she said.
“It’s got to be policies on the ground. Clearly the local council needs to work with police, but there’s a real role for it in changing what that entertainment precinct is used for.
“It’s quite a different place during the evening than during the day time. We support the measures to bring back the shops people need – fruit and veg, butcher, etc.”
Sydney Liberal councillor Shayne Mallard offered a 10-point plan including expanding and upgrading the CCTV network and advertising it with warning signs.
He also wanted panic points similar to those at Chinatown installed at Taylor Square and the Crown St intersection.
Mallard has not backed down on council paying for supplementary policing, which Lord Mayor Clover Moore has maintained is not permissible.
“Council already funds areas that have traditionally been state government responsibilities including CCTV, homeless services and health care,” Mallard said.
“It is time this Council did more than flower boxes, worthy reports and pointing the finger.”
He also called for incentives for gay venues on Oxford St to stay gay.
A number of gay venues have development applications to increase viability. The Colombian Hotel has requested a 24-hour licence, Arq plans a new street-level small bar to operate during the week, and Slide wants to cut its security staff by a third.
Marc Kuzma from Slide said there was no violence within the gay venue, only outside where it maintained four security staff to protect patrons.
Arq proprietor Shadd Danesi said the gay clubs have always been part of the solution.
“In regards to clubs contributing, Arq has already put security guards on Sturt and Taylor streets for the last nine years,” he said.
“Both those streets were fairly violent and we’ve cleaned them up. It’s cost in excess of $1.2 million in wages for those security guards. We’ve contributed a massive amount of money to keeping the surrounding streets safe.”
Moore and Mallard are both scheduled to speak at Saturday’s vigil against homophobic violence.

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