The city’s alcohol-free zones are under review following a NSW Police application to increase by half the number of existing zones.
City of Sydney councillors on Monday labelled the zones ineffective and pointed to last month’s Mardi Gras parade night as evidence of this.
NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Cath Burn will be summoned to appear at next week’s council meeting to explain why the police want a further 23 alchol-free zones on top of the current 50.
The request was met with scepticism by the councillors who demanded proof of their effectiveness before allowing the new measures.
Cr Chris Harris went so far as to deny his support for community consultations on the proposed zones.
I’ve never seen one knocked back, so I won’t support the consultation because they just get rubber-stamped, he said.
The legislation says that the reasons for supporting this must be included, but we have never ever been presented with this evidence.
A City of Sydney staffer interjected with assurances that a report on the effectiveness of temporary zones for New Years’ Eve would be provided.
Cr Shayne Mallard called it a typical police response.
[NSW Police Commissioner] Andrew Scipione has been talking about the problems in Hyde Park after Mardi Gras, but this is a blunt instrument for dealing with that problem and it is broadly blunt without targeting or addressing the real problems, he said.
Mallard also called for further discussion about the trading hours of bottleshops.
Cr John McInerney said a serious conversation was needed about the the impact of accompanying bottleshops when 24-hour licences were granted to pubs and clubs.
The chorus of disapproval continued with Greens councillor Irene Doutney calling the alcohol-free zones inequitable and Cr Meredith Burgmann denouncing them as a class-based and blunt approach to a very complex problem.
This left Lord Mayor Clover Moore as the lone voice defending the proposed new alcohol-free zones.
The recommendations have come from Catherine Burn, who has a great sense of fairness, she said.
I don’t think she will be using this to target street drinkers.
This is about trying to give police some sort of leverage to deal with an alcohol-dominated environment.

info: For more information and maps of the city’s existing and proposed AFZs visit cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au.

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