Brandishing a court order, New Plymouth RSA executive committee members stormed their former Strandon club rooms yesterday to cart away everything from pool tables to the kitchen sink.
The building, owned since 2008 by Auckland businessman Steve Crow and his brother David, has been listed for mortgagee auction later this month and has not been used by the RSA since members walked out in February.
The relationship between the club's executive committee and the brothers began to disintegrate late last year and the expected sale is a much-awaited end to a partnership from which no-one appears to have prospered.
Club spokesman Reg Trowern said yesterday their repossession action was taken to secure what was theirs before the sale of the landmark building.
"We have an order to recover our property from the premises and we will be taking them and storing them until such time as a judge determines ownership," he said.
As well as the pool tables, items on their list included 10 pokie machines, dozens of chairs and tables, assorted club memorabilia and a kitchen currently used by Nosh Restaurant which operates from the building.
Mr Trowern said they did not want to interfere with the restaurant's current bookings so the kitchen would not be removed until Sunday.
The fixtures and chattels will be stored at New Plymouth Pukekura Raceway where members plan to establish new premises at the Tuson Stand.
Despite yesterday's dramatic action Mr Trowern did not believe the wholesale removal of club property would affect the price the building would fetch on September 15.
"We are not going to upset the apple cart because we still hold the second mortgage to this property. We would be stupid to cut off our nose to spite our face. We are going to do everything professionally and correctly," Mr Trowern said.
Last year the Crows issued several members of the removal team with trespass notices, but Mr Trowern believed the court order trumped these notices.
Steve Crow was inclined to disagree and said their presence at what is still his building was illegal, as was the removal of much of the property.
"They sold us a building with fixtures in it and now they have an order to remove the fixtures. How ridiculous is that," he said from Auckland yesterday.
Though his lawyers had indicated he would probably be able to have the RSA court order overturned he had stopped his brother from initiating such an action because even a victory would bring defeat.
"During this whole thing the facts often seem irrelevant to people. We have an RSA that can do no wrong and so the public feels it's OK for them to walk into our building and take what they want," Mr Crow said.
The Crows bought the clubrooms in 2008 for $1.9 million in a complex deal designed to save the financially struggling club once headed by their father.
Initial plans involved a $20m development on the site but these stalled during the downturn and members soon rebelled against changes that the Crows said were needed to save the club from ruin.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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