Ballina Shire Council has rescinded a decision to offer a local club a rent reduction for a reduction in poker machine numbers.
Ballina Shire Council has rescinded a decision to offer a local club a rent reduction for a reduction in poker machine numbers. Lou O'Brien

Pokies-slashing $1 rent offer overturned

A DECISION to make a peppercorn rent offer for a Lennox Head venue in exchange for a reduction in poker machines has been overturned.

Ballina Shire Councillor Phillip Meehan put forward the rescission motion at Thursday's general meeting.

The council passed a motion at its December meeting to reduce its rent for Club Lennox.

That decision included a plan for a base-level rent of 50 per cent of the valuation, or half that if the club reduced its pokies by 10 per cent.

Councillors voted to slash that to a peppercorn rent of $1 if the club reduces its pokies by 20 per cent.

Cr Meehan said the council should, however, separate the issues of rent for the club and the issue of gaming addiction.

 

Cr Keith Williams opposed the rescission, saying it was important to address gambling addiction in the region.

"The cost to the community is broken families, children living in poverty, because we know with absolute certainty a proportion of the people who use these machines are problem gamblers who live in our community," he said.

Deputy mayor Nathan Willis had put forward the December motion, but said new information which had come to his attention suggested it was appropriate to re-structure their decision.

Cr Jeff Johnson said it would help to have a fresh independent valuation available to them before they make a new decision about the club's rent.

Cr Ben Smith said councillors were "not the directors of the club" and shouldn't dictate how it operated.

Cr Eoin Johnston said such significant rent reductions hadn't been offered to other clubs in the shire.

Mayor David Wright supported the rescission, despite his opposition of gaming machines.

"I don't like poker machines full stop," he said.

"I've seen too many people's lives destroyed.

"Maybe we can do it a better way, though."

The rescission motion was carried with only Cr Johnson voting against.

A further motion that the council obtain a new independent market valuation for the land and receive a report on measures of reducing the social impact of poker machines in the shire, was passed.



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