Thanks Tongue and Groove for another sleepless night.

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By: Julia Topliss


It’s 3.15 am on Saturday night and your patrons are on Grey Street – yelling and screaming at each other and slamming car doors.

They don’t seem angry tonight not like a few weeks ago when they erupted into a riot that took 50 police to try and settle down.

Not like 2 weeks ago when a small group seemed okay shouting for 45 minutes but then some women started fighting.

3.23am, I hear car doors slamming. Are they moving on? Things are getting quieter. No, a smaller wave are coming by – noisy but no so bad as the first group. Now there is a woman screaming – Is she okay? Is that a happy scream? Is that a distressed scream? Voices are getting agitated – my guess is there are about 20 people outside. I am going to take a peek.

3.35am. What do I do? The group out the front are now getting louder and don’t seem to be moving on? They don’t seem agitated, violent or angry. I don’t want to call the police. But I also need my sleep.

3.40am. I think they are moving on, doors are slamming, guys shaking hands and play punching. I feel like an old grandmother peering out behind the curtains at the strangers on the street, too intimidated to open the window and implore people to move on. Really don’t want to come across the crank that spoils the party.

3.47am. There are only about 5 left. They are saying f*** you to each other. Is this endearing? I think not, they seem angrier and there is more of them now – where did they suddenly come from?  I am calling the police; bugger it! One man is trying to block an agitated girl in a white dress from entering what I can only assume is a fight around the corner. He’s got her safely into a car and things have settled down.

3.54am Wrong, White Dress is out of the car yelling again and things are getting heated. A car of bogans drive by hanging out the window being leery and rude and stupid. A siren in the background – the flashing blue lights are bouncing off the neighbors building – the police are here – at least 2 cars. No, they brought out the big van. It is quieter now. The police are asking them to politely to leave. They say they are not scared, White Dress is arguing – she is claiming police intimidation.

4.02am. One car is loaded and moving on, burning up the street defiantly and pissed off their night has ended like this. White Dress is still out on the street; an issue of too many people for one car. Left over group declining the police offer of a taxi.

4.27am. I can still hear your patrons but they are back up your way now. I really hope they are still happy and are just being verbally enthusiastic about their big night out.

So here are my questions for you, Tongue and Groove.

How much do you think it costs to do your crowd control? How many police are in those vans? My guess is at least 10 officers in attendance. Plus equipment and administration – lets say $700 per hour although I reckon that is probably a bit lean.

Then there are your fellow night bar owners. Have they had to lock their patrons like on other nights when you run these events.

Then there are the other costs – those hurt in the violence – all those medical bills and days off work. The cost of the clean up on the street – broken glass, smashed windows and damaged fence palings.

Then there is the risk; people leaving piled into cars clearly without enough seat belts to cover them all.

Then there is the psychological distress in a sensitive street that serves the homeless, recovering drug addicts, people with mental health issues, street sex workers, their pimps and the criminal elements that keep the street pumping with drugs.

Then there is the potential for serious violence like a few weeks ago – when stupid things are said at stupid times and blood boils, then bottles fly through the air and fists flail and people get hurt.

As a Community I think we probably got off light tonight, perhaps $1000 to $2000 would be the overall cost to cover your crowd control.

So my final question to you at 5am is this? How can we change this scenario? My Grandad always said to me “work smarter not harder”. How do we change this night to make it end on a happier more positive note – for you, for your fellow traders, for the police, for the street, for the residents and for your patrons.

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