It comes to pass that the CBD’s most-used symbolic gathering place, The Octagon, carrying a cluster of historic buildings, the city’s public art museum, our main performance theatre (Regent), a cinema multiplex under redevelopment, shop and office buildings, the Athenaeum building on the comeback through new stewardship, the impressive St Paul’s Cathedral, the stately Municipal Chambers and Town Hall complex, the seat of local government administration (Civic Centre), and a slightly down-at-heels landscaped wide open space at the junction of surveyor Charles Kettle’s two main arterial roads (Princes/George Streets and Stuart Street), also takes a bevy of drinking bars and night spots that make a strong contribution to central city nighttime violence, disorder, and lack of public safety.
The Craft Bar homicide and the connected serious assault investigations started last weekend point up the Dunedin City Council’s lack of urban design and planning vigilance in Health and Safety matters.
This tied to recent years of lobbying by the Octagon bar owners on licensing and trading hours and conditions, sometimes tied to hosting after-match wakes for Stadium sport and events (even although major events at the stadium are tapering, as predicted), unsupported youth, gang sqirmishes, under-resourced local police, and society’s access to cut-price alcohol and its liberal use (pre-loading and regular binging) alongside other substance abuse, means the Octagon is devolving into a hell-hole of collective making – not dissimilar to what happened at Cathedral Square in Christchurch before the quakes.
What will the city council do to mitigate the situation, and how soon can we restore the space to 24/7 safety for all? Is this even possible with the cluster of ‘intemperance’ bars and no push for building owners to move to greater diversity in mixed ground floor tenanting on the lower Octagon? One way or another “Party Central” has to fold – changing the pattern of ground tiles will not suffice.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull speaks volumes when he says, at times, he does not feel comfortable near the Octagon.
ODT Editorial: Personal responsibility key (30.4.14)
Knowing Dunedin is one of the most statistically safest cities in New Zealand will bring no solace to the families involved in the tragic death of Ryan Court at the weekend. Read more
Related ODT stories:
30.4.14 Arrest after Octagon assault
30.4.14 Progress made in assault inquiry
29.4.14 ‘A good man’ mourned
29.4.14 Man hospitalised after Octagon assault
28.4.14 Bottle assault follows bar death
28.4.14 Names released after death at city bar
28.4.14 Arrest follows death at city bar
27.4.14 Man in custody over Octagon bar death
ODT ‘Booze Control: Stop and Think’ series:
Excessive drinking changes the way people act
30.1.14 Education fails, professor says
29.1.14 South’s alcohol statistics worst
28.1.14 Delicate balancing act over licensing
27.1.14 Still a ‘very safe community’
25.1.14 Time to clean up act over alcohol
25.1.14 The cold, naked truth about nightlife
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr