Stalling on pokies frustrates residents

KAREN GOODGER
Last updated 12:30 20/09/2011

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Victory residents who won a High Court case against Nelson City Council are frustrated nothing is being done to remove the pokies that sparked their battle.

Nelson Gambling Taskforce spokeswoman Angela Mockett said it requested Internal Affairs to cancel the Brewers Bar pokie licence immediately after the judgement, delivered more than a week ago.

However, Internal Affairs and Nelson City Council so far have failed to respond as they have been reviewing and seeking advice on the judgement.

"It's an absolute joke they're even questioning this," Ms Mockett said.

"Our legal advice is that radical changes made to the Nelson Gambling Policy in 2010 are non-compliant and that any licences granted under that policy are also non-compliant."

Internal Affairs gave Brewers Bar permission to install nine pokie machines last year based on the changes to the council's policy.

The High Court ruled that the council failed to consult properly on the changes that enabled the machines to be installed.

"The public have spoken and the court has spoken," Ms Mockett said. "This kind of behaviour is just not on. If (the council) are genuinely considering appealing such a black and white ruling, then ratepayers have every right to be apoplectic."

The council has until October 5 to lodge an appeal. Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio previously said it was a potentially precedent-setting decision and said yesterday the council was still awaiting legal advice.

"I haven't asked for an update. I don't think there's any urgency around it. I know the request is in there and they're working on it."

An Internal Affairs spokesman said it was considering the judgement and its implications. He did not know when this might be complete.

The pokies in Brewers Bar are run by the Auckland-based Trillian Trust. Its chief executive, Dean Agnew, said it had not yet received any instruction or advice from Internal Affairs or the council.

Meanwhile, Richmond resident Mike Rodwell is planning to front Tasman District Council on Thursday, expressing his concern about pokies going back into the former El Taverna building in Queen St that the council owns and is leasing to a former Christchurch couple who are re-establishing it as a restaurant/bar.

"It's the nearest thing we can have to having pokies in the council reception," Mr Rodwell said. "I was heartened by what happened in Victory Square. I just think it's something in the community we need to tone down."

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- The Nelson Mail

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