Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

No compromise on Euroa pokies

The dispute between the Euroa Hotel and an anti-pokies group over the proposed redevelopment of the hotel is set to go to a full hearing of VCAT after mediation failed.

JARROD WHITTAKER April 8, 2014 3:41am

Mediation in a dispute over the introduction of poker machines in Euroa has failed to find a compromise.

Parties to the dispute met at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Melbourne on Friday last week.

No outcome was reached during the meeting.

No Pokies for Euroa’s Mal Alston, a party to the dispute, said the matter would go to a full hearing of the tribunal on May 12.

In November last year, Strathbogie Shire Council granted a planning permit for the redevelopment of the Euroa Hotel, which included 30 pokies.

‘‘We went along to mediation stating we were very happy for the planning permit to proceed if they took out the 30 game machines,’’ Dr Alston said.

He said his group believed was the application should have been approved by Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation before council considered it.

Representatives from the Euroa Hotel and council attended the 90-minute meeting in Melbourne.

Dr Alston told The News he was unable to share details of what was discussed with the hotel representatives at the meeting, as it was in confidence.

He did express disappointment with council.

‘‘In all the weeks and now months coming up to mediation, they stated this was the time they were going to engage with the community and bring something to the table,’’ Dr Alston said.

‘‘No councillors attended and they did not even send in senior council employees.’’

The mediation follows an anti-pokies community meeting and rally in Euroa last month.

Both events received strong support, with more than 160 people filling the town’s Wesley Hall.

More than 250 marched through Euroa with placards at the rally.

Dr Alston said he was confident council’s decision could be overturned and pointed to similar efforts in Romsey and Castlemaine, which had been successful.

‘‘We believe we have very strong arguments and that we will be successful,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a bit of David and Goliath battle in that we are against a company with significant financial backing and unfortunately we don’t have the support of council.’’

The News contacted Euroa Hotel owner Sam Buzzo, who did not wish to comment on the matter while it is before VCAT.

Shire of Strathbogie Mayor Debra Swan said the matter was now before VCAT and wished all parties well.

‘‘We recognise this is part of the process and we’re lucky we’ve got a process we can fall back to,’’ Cr Swan said.

‘‘Given the concern that’s been more recently raised in the community I’m not surprising it’s going to a full hearing.

‘‘We hope that everybody gets a fair hearing.’’

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