Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Residents get better access to DA information

In a move to empower people who may be affected by new developments, City Council is giving the public a lot more access to information about Develpoment Applications.

According to Clover Moore:

'Now, the DA letter distributed to neighbours can also be accessed on line, including the most informative plan or
drawing of the development proposal.

'Over coming months, this online access will be expanded to include additional information, such as typical floor plans, elevations, concept sketches and supporting documents. The City is working on the technical and security issues required to fully integrate internet access.'

Council one-stop-shops will get public computers to facilitate the web access. Photocopies of non-confidential parts of applications will be available on an order-and-collect basis.

Criticisms Frankly offensive

Frank Sartor is apparently offended by criticisms of his carte blanche powers over Redfern/Waterloo (see stories below). He keeps talking about what a consultative type of guy he is, even though the Parliamentary Bill requires no community consultation and allows Frank to override the Heritage Act.

Yet the critics keep criticising. Local Heritage Society boffin Andrew Woodhouse has the following very succinct letter in today's Telegraph:

'The loss of heritage in Redfern and Waterloo is a concern to all communities ("Redfern plan takes shape", Daily Telegraph 29 November, page 9). This "razor plan" is a reflection of a state government that does not respect our past. How can we learn from the past if we destroy it? As a former history teacher, Bob Carr has become a traitor to his own past. Let's hope this form of demolition by neglect is Frank Sartor's "Waterloo".'

And yours truly emailed the following to Sally Loane this morning after her interview with Lucy Turnbull yesterday (the Dame of Point Piper claiming that 'something drastic' was needed for Redfern):

'Frank Sartor's plans for Redfern/Waterloo are presented as somehow solving the social problems of the area. However they are little more than the old, discredited, 'slum clearance' mentality which created the Waterloo towers in the first place, and which in reality displaces whole communities, destroying the many strong and healthy community relationships that exist there and that don't make the news. The only people who really benefit in the end are the big developers.'

Friday, November 26, 2004

Brawl a reality check for the Cross

The gentrification of the Cross was set back a year last night with wide news coverage of eight people being arrested after a brawl that closed Darlinghurst Road for a time.

Reports named Cronulla League captain David Peachy as one of those arrested -- apparently he had been at a Christmas function to raise money for disadvantaged kids and two members of his family later got into a punch-up. Peachy got involved trying to break it up and was one of four released without charge.

An interview with a man who was working at Maccas at the time offered a different slant to the police reports.

On 702 radio this morning he said police were 'really pissed off' at a crowd that was clapping and cheering the brawl. He repeatedly said 'junkies' were present and that they showed absolutely no fear of the cops. He didn't explain how he identified them as junkies. A bottle had been thrown and a policeman was injured in the leg when he fell on the broken glass. The brawl may have spilled out from a 'club' behind the C-store opposite Maccas, he said.

Our sympathies to the injured policeman, and to others who are spending a fortune trying to portray the Cross as a family-oriented Christmasy outpost of middle-class blandness. And it's good to see the effectiveness of our local police in dealing with real trouble under difficult conditions.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

THAT Wenty letter

Gee, Daniel Morrissey from Darling Point is down on the Arts Festival (Wentworth Courier letters, today). He makes a big thing of claiming Louis Nowra's play 'The Woman with Dog's Eyes' was included in the festival 'to pad it out' using 'public money'.

I just had a yak to Louis, who confirmed he had agreed to and was happy about the play's inclusion in the program, as was the Griffin Theatre Company.

The play, by the way, sold out every night -- Louis' most successful yet.

As far as the public money was concerned, five or six square cm of space in a program costs nothing. We could have omitted it and made a picture bigger -- same cost, less info.

Daniel's bitter letter smells of factionalism -- a surefire downfall for local groups. We say again, let's support ALL the KX events and avoid the small-town trap of throwing stones when you live in a glass house.

The Arts Guild at this stage feels those who enjoyed the many successful events know the truth, so they are ignoring the letter.

Not me though. I have sent a reply to the Wenty wearing my hat as one of a host of community members who gave their time gratis to the festival (and last year's BTW). I hope they'll publish it.

Council's decision to split the arts festival funding between two groups showed all the wisdom of Solomon -- only in this case the baby was torn in two! Well, maybe two half-babies are better than one...

Old nighties don't please everyone

A reader sent this message today:

'Had a bit of a cruise through the Cross last night and I gotta say the red banners on Darlinghurst Road are very frumpy -- like some old nighties that have blown off someone's line. They have nowhere near the Stalinesque grandeur of their downtown counterparts on the Queen size poles. Which would've been a lot worse.

Also thought the paving and street upgrade is pretty unexciting considering the disruption it's caused -- and the new uniform signage on Macleay St is just plain scarey.

Still no sign of the Llankelly lights -- must be bringing the replacement parts in from overseas by camel. '

You have to admit the wide footpaths are refreshing, though -- ed.

Heritage Society petitions the Pope

Pell's Bells! The Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Society certainly believes in going to the top.

Cardinal George Pell seems intent on overriding the local parish to build a multi-storey medical school on the site of the Sacred Heart Church at Victoria and Oxford streets. So Andrew Woodhouse of the Heritage Society has written to the Pope asking for intervention.

That's optimism -- given the close relationship between Pell, the Pope and their Opus Dei mates, this move from a secular lobby group would seem to stand little chance.

But maybe Mr Woodhouse has a sectret weapon -- as an organist, chorister and Anglican, perhaps he plans to go over the Pope's head. Even though the prelate claims to have a direct line to God on matters of faith and morals, the creator apparently listens to lesser mortals as well.

So if we end up with a faith-based medical school in the heart of gay Sydney, it can only be the will of God! Or can it?

Local lensgirl does good

Wedding photography was never like this!

Kings Cross photographer Roslyn Sharp will soon have a major exhibition at the Museum of Sydney with her series 'getting married', a collection of wild and wonderful wedding shots focusing on the more exotic ethnic traditions enriching our culture.

It's staged by the Historic Houses Trust as part of the Festival of Sydney, and one of Roz's shots has been published as the cover photo on the Trust's new 'Events' booklet . It's a Jewish Civil wedding with the groom in a psychedelic paisley suit dancing along followed by a Gypsy-influenced band. Page 3 features another shot from a very ornate and joyous Bangladeshi Muslim wedding.

Roz also featured in 'Cross Projections' -- a sellout event from the recent Kings Cross Arts Festival -- with a captivating series shot in barbershops and hairdressers around the world.

Click on the headline to book or see all the events on the HH Trust website.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The inside story of the Injecting Centre

The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre at 66 Darlinghurst Road has not only rocked the boat locally but has made waves around the world. Now we can read the inside story of its first two years, and the extraordinary challenges dealt with by its dedicated staff.

'In The Eye of the Needle' by the centre's Medical Director, Dr Ingrid van Beek, is a blow-by-blow account based on her taped diaries, providing a very personal and highly detailed window on the hidden world of drug addicts and those who seek to help them.

The MSIC exists in a half-world defined by human foible on the one hand and unworkable prohibition laws on the other, a place where people can legally inject illegal drugs. It is a raging success measured by its enthusiastic adoption by the drug community, yet endures repeated attacks from its enemies in the press, in parliament, from troublemaking clients, the US-controlled International Narcotics Control Board and from some Kings Cross locals.

The book left me in no doubt that the Centre saves many lives. Hundreds of overdoses occurred and were headed off, usually by the administration of oxygen and only in rare cases by the use of Naloxone -- a problematic drug which, the book reveals, neutralises the effects of heroin and leaves addicts in a state of severe withdrawal and likely to go in search of another, even more dangerous hit.

Not that heroin is necessarily the major problem -- cocaine was the most common drug injected in the early days of the centre, far more dangerous and difficult to manage than heroin, and the mixture of other drugs with benzodiazapines such as valium and temazepam is the most common cause of overdose.

Constant battles with bureaucratic stupidity are well documented. I will be borrowing one succinct phrase from the book -- about one public servant who 'found solutions instead of erecting roadblocks'. Unfortunately the opposite is usually the case.

Ms van Beek lays to rest many of the issues which have erupted. The conclusion of the Evaluation Report that only four lives had been saved during the first 18 months is shown to be the result of an extremely strict definition of overdose which ignored all the oxygen-based treatments. Many of these, because help was immediately at hand, almost certainly headed off more serious overdoses which would have occurred if the user had been on the street or simply alone in a room.

The rubbish spouted by the likes of Major Brian Watters and Fred Nile is also debunked. Nile had the lives saved down to three, and Watters claimed that the centre had referred no clients to his Salvation Army rehab centres -- even as the centre was receiving a call from one of their clients who was in a Salvo rehab centre. Claims that the centre was way over budget were also untrue.

But the otherwise even-handed writing seems to go a little askew when it repeatedly names and attacks -- from page one -- Malcolm Duncan and the Kings Cross Chamber of Commerce which destroyed itself opposing the centre. Malcolm, who ironically opposes prohibition, seems to have gotten under Ingrid's skin.

True, the Chamber amplified some of the above myths but it also had valid concerns about the location of the centre. It is a fact that all centres dealing with highly marginalised people are not welcomed by the neighbours -- from needle exchanges to half-way prison houses to, at Ms van Beek's own admission, an injecting centre in Frankfurt which was located in an industrial area precisely to avoid such problems. Not only were the neighbours objecting, but a drug dealing scene had formed in the area.

I keep asking the question: why should the owner of the shop next to the centre, now untenanted for over two years, pay the price for our social conscience? I haven't had a satisfactory answer. I strongly support the centre, but if I wanted to open a main street business, I would probably choose another shop to rent especially if my life savings were at risk in the investment. And while by far the majority of Kings Cross locals support the centre, the further away from the centre they live or work, the greater the support. It's difficult to see how to resolve this conflict. Compensation might be the only way.

This well-written, revealing book is a must-read for Kings Cross locals and anyone interested in the drug scene, prohibition and policing. Published by Allen & Unwin, it's on sale now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Frank Sartor gets dictatorial powers

The Bill which will create the new Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) gives Frank Sartor, as Minister responsible, powers that would be the envy of most dictators, including the ability to override the Heritage Act. The RWA can also become its own consent authority. It amounts to the rape of Sydney, despite Frank's heart-warming spin about solving the social problems of the area and his vapid references to 'community consultation'.

1. The Bill gives the RWA power to create any development plan it likes, by any process, with no public accountability or recourse.

2. Frank Sartor will be able to appoint his own nine-person board answerable only to him. The board must contain one Aboriginal member.

3. The Authority's primary role is to stimulate economic development, mostly through the development and sale of government owned lands. The bill leaves the responsibility for 'human services' with the existing Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project, which will have no power over the RWA.

4. The RWA will be able to extend its own territory at Frank Sartor's discretion (the strip to the airport being the front runner). The Carlton United Brewery site in Chippendale has already been raked in to harvest funds for low income housing, according to some interpretations of the bill.

5. The bill allows the authority to compulsorily acquire public and private land. It will be funded by selling these assets, and will not be required to disclose financial details. Only 'non-core' public land can be acquired, but Frank pretty much gets to decide what is 'core'.

6. The RWA can establish private corporations operating outside any of the normal limitations of government.

7. Frank can declare very expensive developments to be 'of state significance' which will make the RWA its own consent authority, like the discredited Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

8. The Bill allows the Minister to override the provisions of the Heritage Act 1977.

Our advice? Form a development corporation now and start brown-nosing people from the Labor right. Only the rich will benefit from this. If you don't believe the above, click on the headline to see for yourself.

Uncool creep cruels kittens

The bag landed with a thud beneath the McElhone Street cliffs. A local lady looked out her window and saw it moving. Inside were four kittens -- two dead and two alive.

The bag had been thrown from the rear carpark of the flats at 147 Brougham Street where a grey feral cat has lived for years, fed by locals and the 87-year-old cat lady who has a rendezvous with them each evening in McElhone Street . The cats climb down through a thicket of vines to meet her.

You can't get near the mother, but the kittens were too slow and someone who probably lives at the flats caught them. Instead of calling the RSPCA or at least destroying them quickly and cleanly, they took the coward's way out and just tossed them over the cliff. The survivors were taken to the RSPCA.

Pete, who lives at the flats, knows a vet who will desex the mother for free. Anyone know how to catch a feral cat?

STOP PRESS -- a local who read this just told us the same thing happened in January -- he was walking past when a kitten landed on the road, badly injuring it. He was forced to put it out of its misery.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Smooth serendipity

Last week Kings Cross seemed to be awash with old airline magazines. In restaurants, under my door...

In a Virgin magazine was an ad for an 'Intimate Shaver System' with the motto 'Dare to be bare'.

The mail order address was Bald Hills, Qld. Had to happen.

Today Redfern -- tomorrow the rest of Sydney

The Redfern Waterloo Authority will be able to expand its area of influence by a stroke of the pen according to an SMH story today -- click the headline for a link.

Not a mention of windfall profits for the people who donate most to Labor coffers. Frank Sartor's star is on the rise. High rise, uniformity on a grand scale and the scent of diesel fumes would seem to be the future of Sydney.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Propaganda flies in the Cross

Now the Kings Cross Arts Festival is over, I can document some of the amazing actions of the council in blocking and sabotaging the event they are largely paying for.

Smartpole banners are a good example. According to council spin the banners are to 'celebrate community events'. More cynical commentators see them as just another advertising medium -- see the inaugural red ones now flying which advertise council's 'Information Space' even though it is still a construction site!.

Looks like the cynics are right. The Arts festival is the biggest community event on the Kings Cross annual calendar, yet local Council bureaucrats refused permission to give the festival street presence on banners. Three councillors took up the request but were also fended off by council staff.

The excuse was the financial cost, but real intentions were betrayed by their refusal to allow even an ordinary school fete type banner across the main road.

Council couldn't bear to have the arts festival steal the thunder from their own programs -- like the belated opening of the library, and the Christmas party they are planning next month to unveil the new re-made Kings Cross. I and others also kept requesting that the Llankelly Place lights be switched back on in time for the festival. No reply. What's the bet they'll be on in time for council's event?

It's like dealing with a bunch of petulant teenagers from an American high-school movie circa 1955. 'It's my party and yours can go jump'. Only total sycophants get any help.

The festival was nevertheless a success, climaxing with the Arts Ball on Friday night which absolutely cooked thanks to Jeff Duff's Band, drag acts Monique and Miss 3d, and the excellent staff and management at Ladylux nightclub.

STOP PRESS: the council spin has started -- a press release just out begins:

'Kings Cross will have a spectacular burst of energy for the launch of the City of Sydney urban renewal program of Kings Cross on Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 December. 'The Strip' will shimmer as the precinct celebrates the makeover of this famous Sydney cultural icon.'

Fabulous, isn't it? When the Arts Festival didn't even get mentioned on Council's 'what's on' web page. Nevertheless, the council launch should be supported -- for the good of the Cross -- along with the 'other' arts festival slated for next March or so.

Greens oppose more booze police

Greens Councillor Chris Harris strongly opposes Sydney City Council's move to establish alcohol free zones on approximately 100 streets and lanes throughout the City- an increase of 140% over current exclusion zones.

"Why are we planning to introduce these zones when police powers are more than adequate for dealing with drunk and disorderly behaviour? ", asked Cr Harris.

"The state government has armed Police with the Summary Offences Act, the Young Offenders Act and extensive search powers. This is not a local government responsibility and the City of Sydney should not be drawn into introducing these draconian measures" Harris continued.

"The Greens know that those who will bear the brunt of enforcement will be the homeless, public housing tenants, young people and members of the indigenous community. Areas targeted include the Glebe Estate, Redfern St, the Waterloo Public Housing areas, the Matthew Talbot Hostel, Edward Eagar Lodge, Foster House and the Wayside Chapel", said Cr Harris. "You can be sure that middle class drinkers won't be targeted by the police".

"We live in an exciting and diverse city, and we need to preserve that diversity. Council should not be wasting money on useless signs but should be putting money into outreach and positive programs that help people with alcohol problems."

Sydney City Council will debate the introduction of these alcohol free zones at its 15 November meeting. Cr Harris will be urging his colleagues to allow current zones to lapse and to discontinue the process proposed in the council agenda.

--press release

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sartor gets his toys back

After its crushing defeat in the City Council elections the Carr clan is about to get its revenge by passing laws to put ex-Mayor Frank Sartor in charge of re-developing south Sydney. This would remove significant control from City of Sydney Council.

As usual, the will of the people is but a minor setback for these control freaks and their developer mates.

The spin-merchants are already out, claiming the redevelopment will slash unemployment in Waterloo and Redfern. Demolishing the place will certainly achieve that.

The Tele reports Clover is concerned that there will be proper community consultation.

There will be, Clover -- but if our local experience of the Sartor vision is any guide, the consultation will happen only after the plans are all made and the contracts signed, and a couple of token changes will be agreed to for the sake of PR. Typically for this government, the announcement comes before a Parliamentary committee enquiring into Redfern/Waterloo has delivered its findings.

What's the bet the new plans will involve grey granite, smartpoles and plane trees all in a row? Ah, Frank's 'vision'. Good to see he'll be fully employed now -- sorting out Sydney's water problems must be too small a problem for such a visionary.

Click the headline to see a report in The Australian.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Library to open tomorrow!

Ladies, gentlemen and others -- the King Cross Library will at last open to the public tomorrow 9/11/04 at 10am, according to a very reliable source who GUARANTEED it. See you there!

The strip's still a drag

Latest business closure on Darlinghurst Road -- the Chinese BBQ behind where the KX Bikers used to park (opposite Krave). The shop has been blocked by construction work for over seven months.

Meanwhile, for those hanging on to their borrowed books, the library still isn't open.

The Tele today has had another go at Clover Moore claiming she used her executive powers to extend street works in Kings Cross, causing them to drag on till April. It is old news, though, referring to Springfield Avenue and Roslyn Street where the residents in fact welcome the work.

The original completion estimate was February. Work in the main street, cross fingers, will be finished well before then.

Roslyn Street gets a boost

Roslyn Street has a funky new micro-cafe, Spud & Douglas on the corner of Barncleuth lane. The exterior has been worked over by stencil artists as part of the Live Walls event conceived as part of the Kings Cross Arts festival.

On Friday night members of hot Sydney band Hubris performed there with acoustic guitar and violin accompanying great lyrics well-sung.

Those who lament repeated attempts to gentrify Sydney's most atmospheric cafe street will welcome the newcomers. Coffee's great, BTW.

Ultimo to get full aquatic centre

The determination of the previous city council to reduce the scope of the proposed Ultimo Aquatic Centre has been overturned and the centre will be built according to its original concept, says Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

The centre will include an Olympic-size pool, leisure pool, hydrotherapy pool, spa pool, sauna, cafe and fitness centre. The Centre will be located on Harris Street, in a distinctive wave-form building designed by Harry Seidler.

The previous council had decided it couldn't afford the full monte and had proposed to reduce its size and delete the hydrotherapy pool.

Clover Moore says the project dovetails in with her team's City of Villages policy for creating focal points for local communities to meet, relax and enjoy themselves.

The facility will be known as the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, and Thorpe has agreed to an ongoing association with the centre.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Barrister spikes van Beek book

Local barrister Malcolm Duncan has taken out an injunction to prevent the local launch of 'In the eye of the needle', written by Ingrid van Beek, Medical Director of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.

He claims there are defamatory statements in the book, which deals with the history of the Darlinghurst Road facility.

Duncan was active in the now-defunct Kings Cross Chamber of Commerce which took legal action to prevent the centre being opened in its present location. The chamber lost the action against the Uniting Church, which runs the centre, and heavy costs were ordered against the chamber which eventually resulted in it being wound up.

The launch was to have taken place at The Cross Art + Books on Tuesday at 6pm. The book is published by Allen & Unwin and we understand that the injunction does not prevent its sale.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Poo on sticks to be wiped

The Owners' Corporation of the Elan Apartments is considering replacing the infamous poo on sticks at the top of William Street with something else. They are open to suggestions.

There has been a lot of talk about putting a giant neon sculpture in place to celebrate the heritage of neons in this area, and the new pro-neon signage policy applying to the Cross. I like a giant pink pussycat. Another suggestion is a giant phoenix, referring to a now-demolished sign in that spot which was a well-known rendezvous point.

Click the headline to see another blogspot on the subject.

Remember the Kings Cross Library?

As correctly pointed out by comments posted recently, our library remains closed. Council sources say they have 'no idea' when it will be open. Apparently the mezzanine level still has no balcony railing, so it is unsafe.

Work on the street, though, appears to have accelerated with observers noting longer hours of work on the paving in the parking bays, now mostly finished. However we are told no parking will be allowed for several weeks because the concrete beneath the pavers needs to cure before they will bear heavy weight. Makes you wonder about the heavy vehicles and stacks of pavers in some of the other bays.

Bush win boosts arms industry

The US stock exchange shot up on the re-election of President George W Bush, led by arms industry stocks. Presumably investors are confident that war and violence will continue to be used as a primary tool in international relations.

Yet analysts say 'moral issues' were uppermost in the minds of many of the midwest majority who voted republican and tipped the scales against John Kerry. Warmongering must, in the minds of these voters, have nothing to do with morals.

Closer to home, Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy has been awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. Roy is succinct on the arms industry, observing that weapons used to be manufactured to fight wars but these days wars are manufactured to sell weapons.

More from Arundhati Roy: 'Today, in a world convulsed by violence and unbelievable brutality the lines between 'us' and 'the terrorists' have been completely blurred. We don't have to choose between Imperialism and Terrorism, we have to choose what form of resistance will rid us of both. What shall we choose? Violence or non violence? We have to choose knowing that when we are violent to our enemies, we do violence to ourselves. When we brutalize others, we brutalize ourselves. And eventually we run the risk of becoming our oppressors'.

Click on the headline to read more.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Pell to usurp control of Sacred Heart church

'The silence from the Archdiocese is deafening,' says Laelie Schwartz, who is fighting to save her Oxford Street Church from being converted into a six-storey medical school run by a Catholic university.

'Fr. Brian Egan's official tenure as Parish Priest expired on October 28 and at present has not been renewed,' says Ms Schwartz, who fears that if he is removed, the Parish committee will be dissolved and Archbishop George Pell would install an Administrator.

That would remove any obstacle in canon law to the development plans, which would normally require the consent of the Parish Priest. A tame administrator would do Pell's bidding.

A wide community movement has developed to oppose the plans, including local resident groups, councillors from the City and Woollahra and local heritage societies. Their immediate goal is to have the site listed on the Heritage Register with the Sydney City council.

Apart from the heritage aspects, some are claiming that the Notre Dame University is homophobic in its teachings, and the project has more to do with George Pell's right-wing ideology.

Ms Schwartz questions the bona fides of the plans, which include commercial leasehold fronting Oxford St. 'Leaked information says that Notre Dame is in some financial difficulty and is already in debt to the tune of $15m, and that it is impossible to build a medical school for a mere $13m as claimed.'

'The real figure is about $250m with professors, lecturers and a minimum staff of about 100 persons. On the Sacred heart site it is impossible,' she said.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Stencil artists re-paint the Cross

Groups of stencil artists hit the streets yesterday spraying their quirky inspirations onto walls around the Cross.

The project, part of the Kings Cross Arts Festival, is dubbed 'live walls'. Under the auspices of the KX Arts Guild, the artists negotiated with businesses who agreed to donate wall space to be decorated.

You can see their work to date at the rear of the Prague restaurant in Kellett Way and behind the Crest Hotel on Victoria Street.

Local artist mini graff has posted some of the work on the web -- click the headline to see it.

Also yesterday the Kings Cross markets came to life with the Southern All-stars steel band who got the place jumping between 11am-12 noon.

Meanwhile the Festival is gathering pace -- check your program for details so you don't miss out on the fun -- see the hard copies all over the Cross or visit www.kxarts.com.

And don't miss the Arts Ball, Friday November 12 at Ladylux in Roslyn Street -- phone 9357 2164 for bookings. Numbers are limited to 200, so book now! Email the editor or post a comment with your email if you want an invitation sent.

Another business closes

The recently opened Diogenes Greek restaurant/cafe has closed already due to lack of business. The restaurant is in Bayswater Road near Darlinghurst Road.

The owner, Jim, says he was surprised when he put two tables onto the new wide pavement and council rangers immediately pounced and ordered him to remove them. He then began the application process to have al fresco tables, but seven weeks later still does not have a result from council.

A more relaxed and helpful attitude from Council may not have saved the business venture, but it sure would have helped.

Junkies break into Rex Building

Junkies last night broke into the Community Centre on the ground floor of the Rex Building, stole a small amount of cash and used the toilets inside to have a shooting-up party.

The entry point was probably fire doors according to Robyn Greaves, centre co-ordinator. Ms Greaves has been warning Council, who own the community space, of the attractiveness to heroin addicts of the otherwise empty premises.

A large quantity of injecting paraphernalia was left in the toilets.

Roadworks conveniently speed up

The new Kings Cross Library is due to open today. Those who have been given a tour say it's pretty impressive It's certainly one good thing to come out of the turmoil, neglect and backflips of two council administrations over the past few years.

However it does little to relieve the pain of the extended roadworks being suffered by local residents, and particulaly main street businesses. Despite repeated calls and half-promises for the delayed works to be accelerated, nothing substantial has happened -- until, that is, Council wanted the street tarted up for the Library opening today.

Suddenly, it seemed, someone found the will and the money to pay for extended hours of work over the weekend -- teams were racing all weekend to complete the street parking bays outside the council building, and work powered ahead on the building itself. One could see the pavement works growing metre by metre before one's eyes yesterday, Sunday.

Where there's a will, there's a way, it seems. Unfortunately the great progress over this weekend just goes to show what's possible -- and that only council's priorities matter while the rest of us can go jump.

It also goes to show that the realpolitik hardheads at council understand that while Kings Cross may jump and shout, they can afford to ignore us because beyond shouting and pleading we are not really a serious problem within their ivory tower. The only way to influence council, it seems, is by more direct action.

Any ideas? A rates strike would be the most effective, to teach these arrogant apparatchiks that they work for us, not the other way around. But most people would be too timid. Wouldn't they? What about a class action from main street businesses? Yesterday is proof that council could have finished the works much earlier if they cared a fig. Any takers?