City News

Citizens Jury delivers unsurprising verdict

Jury member Josh Sprake says the recommendations were unsurprising

A ‘Citizens Jury’ of 43 Sydneysiders has presented a list of 25 recommendations to Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Premier Barry O’Farrell on how to make the city’s nightlife safer and more vibrant.

The jury recommends the state government establish a “night-time events co-ordination” department to businesses to extend their trading hours and diversify the late-night economy. It also recommends that exemptions to the state’s lockout laws be made available to venues that pose a low risk to public safety.

There was unanimous support among the jurors to streamline processes and reduce red tape around the approval of events and festivals.

The jury met over five weekends and was addressed by a number of experts including the Australian Medical Association’s Dr Peter Aquilina, former director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, and representatives of NSW Police, the crime statistics bureau and the City of Sydney.

It also undertook a night-time tour of Sydney’s entertainment hotspots, including Newtown, Haymarket, George Street and Kings Cross.

The recommendations will be tabled in state parliament and have been welcomed by Cr Moore, who described them as thoughtful and sensible.

“The Jury saw a need to diversify Sydney’s nightlife, improve late night transport and recognise education and the media have a role to play,” the Lord Mayor wrote.

She noted that eight recommendations fall within the City of Sydney’s direct responsibilities, toward which council is already progressing through OPEN Sydney, the Live Music Action Plan and its Public Toilet Strategy.

21-year-old telecommunications consultant Josh Sprake, who was one of seven or eight jury members under 25, said the process was hampered by its focus on reaching consensus.

“Owing to this handicap, the jury was unable to criticise ideas or support other initiatives that may not have been popular but would have been effective at addressing our goals,” he told City News.

“Most of the recommendations such as increased late night transport, increased police numbers, more CCTV footage and cutting red tape are things the NSW government and City of Sydney are already pursuing.”

Among the report’s other recommendations is for the 1.30am lockout and associated measures to be reviewed after 12 months, rather than after 24 months as currently planned by the government.

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