Easybeats singer beaten by pub laws

By ANDY PARKS andy.parks@northernstar.com.au A SURPRISE 60th birthday party for Australian rock legend Stevie Wright had to be moved from The Chincogan Hotel in Mullumbimby to the Gold Coast because of licensing problems.

Both The Chincogan and the Middle B Hotels in Mullumbimby were closed down as entertainment venues last week because they did not have Place Of Public Entertainment (POPE) approval.

The party for the Easybeats singer was being organised by Mullumbimby musician Al Conway, who is an old friend of Stevie's and a regular at the Chini jam night.

"Heaps of musos were invited and a lot of people were coming down," he said. "Because it's for Stevie they'll make the extra effort and go out of their way."

The Easybeats were one of Australia's first successful musical exports, taking the British and American music scene by storm in the mid-1960s with hits like Friday On My Mind and I'll Make You Happy.

On the guest list for the party were Jimmy Barnes and his brother John Swan, Normie Rowe, Phil Emmanuel and members of Rose Tattoo and Chain.

"It's a bastard that this has happened, it's a great little pub. I've had to tell Stevie 'don't come down'. So Mullum misses out, the whole North Coast misses out," Mr Conway said.

The hotels are still able to operate all other areas of their business, but Chincogan Hotel manager Yossi Rozio said the crackdown on entertainment couldn't have come at a worse time.

"The locals are really upset. Just when we had really picked things up with our market day fiestas; we had acoustic music nearly every day, a jam night on Thursday and bands on Friday. Suddenly Mullum has something to offer, the vibe was really changing. We opened up an area for kids, so instead of seven alcoholics sitting at the bar we had live music and families coming."

Police say they haven't been targeting Mullumbimby.

"We have been carrying out inspections of licensed premises within the Tweed-Byron area," Tweed-Byron Local Area commander, Superintendent Michael Kenny, said.

Supt Kenny said that 21 police had recently undergone training in the area of licensing and during the months of November and December 27 'overt and covert' audits had been conducted on licensed premises.

Mr Rozio said The Chincogan had applied for an interim POPE to get them through the Christmas period while they tried to sort out the requirements for their licence.

But Byron Shire Council acting manager for regulatory services, Wayne Bertram, said there was no provision to issue a temporary permit.

"There's either an approval or there's not," he said.

Mr Bertram warned several other venues in the Byron Shire were also under investigation and that changes to State laws meant some would have to lodge development applications.

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