We're incredibly proud of the Sydney Streets program.
In the wake of the pandemic, we began running the street closure parties as a way of encouraging people to come out and support local business and have a bit of fun safely in the open air.
Along with our outdoor dining program, Sydney Streets has been instrumental in supporting the economic and social recovery of businesses and local communities impacted by the pandemic.
I was disappointed to read in the Herald this week criticism that the Stanley Street version is the only success, and misinformation that we’re trying to kill off that event’s vibe.
Moreover, I don't agree with the Herald that the Stanley Street version is the only success – each neighbourhood and offering is unique and special in its own way.
The program is becoming increasingly popular, with growing numbers attending each event. This cycle we scheduled 14 events over the year, to give businesses certainty and plenty of time to organise.
Are they perfect or beyond improvement? Of course not!
That's why after this series, we will be reviewing all the Sydney Street events and thinking about how we ensure they are delivering for local businesses and our community. We have to make sure they’re fit for purpose.
We are also not trying to kill off the Stanley Street vibe, despite the Herald’s insistence. Of course we want music and visitors from outside our area!
It makes a more dramatic story to cast the City as out-of-touch fun-police here, but the truth is the event has grown incredibly popular very quickly and we have to work with businesses on the next iteration to ensure it remains a success.
NSW Police advised that given the size and behaviour of the crowd at the latest Stanley Street party, the City will need to increase crowd management measures, including infrastructure and security, which will likely see costs increase. But we'll work with businesses, the police and broader community and figure it out.
With Sydney Streets we did something new and I think wonderful – we closed our streets off to traffic and handed them over to businesses and people.
That should be celebrated, not used as a vehicle for a story generating conflict.
The review, which of course will take in feedback from businesses, visitors, and surrounding residents, will help us determine the optimal timing, frequency and scope of events, including the option of programming events during the Winter months. The events were initially primarily to support local businesses and help increase their patronage (hence no food trucks, etc.) but maybe that's something to rethink?
Whatever the outcome of the review, I want you to know that we are committed to ensuring the Sydney Street events are as good as they can be – to support businesses and give our community a fun way to enjoy all the city has to offer.