"No more Kings Cross venues": Clamp-down for Sydney's club district

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The death of 18-year-old Thomas Kelly after an unprovoked attack in Kings Cross over the weekend has led to calls for venues in the Sydney nightlife hub to be scaled back. Debate began this week, after the teen – who was walking through the Cross at 10pm on Saturday night when he was punched and knocked out by an unknown assailant – died on Monday night, following severe head injuries sustained from the blow.

As anyone who’s lived through similar previous media panics would recall, the issue of violence in Kings Cross is nothing new – but the weekend’s attack has reignited debate over how to improve the safety of the precinct at night. For Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, the answer lies in reducing the number of venues operating in the Cross. “We need to be able to say no more venues in this area and scale back the existing ones,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

While June saw the state government extend for six months a freeze on new liquor licenses in Kings Cross, Oxford St and the southern CBD – effectively prohibiting the opening of any new venues – the Lord Mayor has said that more needs to be done. She’s advocated a permit system like that of New York or Paris, where venues need to renew their liquor license every year or two rather than granting them indefinitely.

It’s a sentiment being echoed by a number of other Sydney identities. Kings Cross business group chairman Adrian Bartels agreed that there are too many licensed venues in the Cross, but that management of the area should be just part of an overall plan to better manage the area. “We need to be looking to Berlin, Paris and London for ideas,” he told the ABC. At this stage, it’s unclear what exactly the debate over the Cross – especially propositions to scale back existing venues – will spell for the future of clubs in the area.

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