Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Cross welcomes new Police commander

Superintendent Steve Cullen last night publicly took over the reins at the PACT meeting chaired by Lord Mayor Clover Moore and departing Commander Dave Darcy.

Supt. Cullen is leaving the Manly command and impressed the small crowd with his very direct and no-nonsense approach. By coincidence he has a property in Kings Cross and will be living here at least half the time. He was previously posted in the Cross in 1979 and has conducted operations in the area since.

Supt. Darcy reported on the past three months, happy to inform us that crime continues to drop overall in line with the rest of NSW and indeed with the trend in NZ and the UK. The reasons for this, he said, are not fully understood.

The focus as usual was on drugs and street dealing. Out of 211 drug charges over the period, 33 had been dealing-related.

Local business people complained about the continuing presence of street dealing and its negative impact on the streetscape. Police acknowledged this, Steve Cullen commenting that 'for every dealer you lock up eight more appear.'

Stephen Carnell from the Kings Cross Partrnership asked what could be done about the serial use of public telephones by dealers and their customers.

Not much, was the essence of the reply although there was discussion about removing them from outside businesses. Clover Moore said she was distressed by the placement of many phones, dictated by the needs of DC Decaux advertising rather than public amentiy. She was examining the 20-year contract inherited from the previous council to see if improvements could be made.

Police asked that plans to put seating in the new Springfield Plaza be scrapped in case drug dealers sat on them. Dave Darcy was concerned that a seating wall running the length of the plaza would also attract street people.

There is a DA in to convert the old Westpac building to allow al fresco dining and coffee. This 'active edge' is seen to act as a deterrent to hangers-about, and Steve Cullen supports the idea of the venues removing their seating at night.

'Put in seating and they will come,' he said.

The editor commented that the idea of removing all public amenities in case drug dealers used them was a negative solution adversely affecting the whole community, and positive solutions should be sought. The generic 'café solution' to every public space problem was unimaginitive and impractical as peple could only drink so much coffee. Existing businesses in the area might also suffer.

Fixtures to attract other people can improve public space through displacement and passive surveillance. A major public artwork, a community noticeboard, a district map to assist visitors and a phone booth would attract different people to the seating, which was also needed by the many older people in the district. I had included all this in a submission to the council but it appears staff have discounted all such suggestions except that some trees would be repositioned.

Dave Darcy disagreed vehemently with this. He suggested a trickling water feature along the seating wall to stop people sitting on it.


Anonymous said...

Darcy "suggested a trickling water feature along the seating wall to stop people sitting on it".

let's colour the water pale yellow- keep the water warm - and the little river should be at about crutch height.

Anonymous said...

Removing public amenities so certain members of the public won't use them is a great idea.
South Sydney Council did an upgrade of the park at the bottom of Roslyn St a few years back with the aim of dettering the homeless who used it. They installed prison yard lighting, removed any semblence of seating and shade trees, and generally made sure the new park was as uncomfortable as possible. It worked like a charm. Not only did they succeed in deterring the homeless, but it is now so unpleasant that now one at all uses it - or even walks through it. Now that's what I call thinking.

Anonymous said...

The Alamein fountain is hit with a detergent attack most weeks...with food colouring to boot. Imagine the chaos a trickling water feature in Springfield Park would invite.

Anonymous said...

Don’t laugh, the trickle of warm water feature was made famous by The Tom Bass sculpture on the corner of No 2 Castlereigh St. In the wall of the P&O building. We use to joke that it was where you would P&O.