Kings Cross Venues Refute Mayor's Blame

13 July 2012 | 3:06 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore wants to implement tougher regulations.

Kings Cross Hotel. Photo from Facebook

Kings Cross Hotel. Photo from Facebook

Following the death of a teenager in Kings Cross last weekend, who was king-hit in an unprovoked attack and never regained consciousness, the topic of safety in the popular nightlife district has dominated the news cycle in Sydney this week.

Today at a press conference Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore called for a renewable permit system, which would put venues themselves under more regularly scrutiny from regulators. But the Australian Hotels Association's NSW chief executive Paul Nicolaou said that a "zero tolerance stance" on criminal behaviour was needed.

The number of venues in Kings Cross, one of Sydney's premier nightspot districts, has also come under question this week from Moore, who said, "The saturation of licensed venues in Kings Cross is serious. Current planning laws mean the city can't refuse a development application for a new venue when an area has reached saturation point."

Speaking to theMusic.com.au today, Kimberley Galceran, Venue Manager of FBi Social, a live music venue run by community radio station FBi in the King's Cross Hotel, said that venues in the Cross have been dealing adequately with revellers, it's when they get onto the street that the problems occur.

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“I don't think that's necessarily going to help it," she said of further regulating venues. "The venues know what they have to deal with, I think they're managing it fairly well. It's out on the street where they're having problems."

She admitted that she had her doubts about the Kings Cross environment when FBi launched the venue, which primarily hosts live music, but says the people they've attracted with their events haven't witnessed any problems.

“When FBi opened the venue I felt like it really was in the wrong spot and that people really don't want to go out into the Cross to see indie music. But I've been working there for a year now and I haven't seen any problems, I haven't seen any violence… I've changed my tune completely, I think it's fine.”

Located on level two of the Kings Cross Hotel, the rest of the venue features bars, dancefloors and a rooftop area and the hotel manages security across all of these. Galceran said there hasn't been the need to post permanent security at FBi Social.

“I think it's very much removed from everything else that happens in the Cross," she said, "apart from World Bar which is probably the most similar, FBi Social's very laid back… I've never heard of any of our punters suffering from any type of violence... [Security] get some drunk punters and some guys who want to be idiots, but they handle it very well.”

Scott Owen, booker and promoter of World Bar's staple night MUM, said that often the troubles on the street are happening amongst people who are being rejected entry into venues, so further regulation of venues isn't going to address that.

"To 100 percent eradicate any violence and anti-social behaviour in Kings Cross there needs to be a cultural change, not added regulations," he said.

Galceran herself is no stranger to violence in the Cross, a family friend of hers died after an altercation with a bouncer.

“There's no way to explain why these things happen, King's Cross is full of a lot of strange people and crazy energy,” she said.

Story updated 4.45pm with Scott Owen response.