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Golf Club in jeopardy

Wednesday, 11th March, 2015

By Andrew Robertson

Objection on hotel plans could force club closure

The owners of the BH Golf and Country Club are warning that the picturesque course could be closed within months if police continue to object to their application for a hotel licence.

Mildura-based company Dialena says without the licence it will not be able to generate the income, or raise the finances it requires to maintain the course and clubhouse.

The company and golf club also claim some of the information contained in the police submission to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is misleading or inaccurate, and that police have been unwilling to discuss the issues face-to-face.

Dialena’s application, which is based a proposed hotel development at the existing golf club site, would extend the operating hours and the maximum number of patrons allowed at the venue to 450, up from 150. 

Police are objecting on a number of grounds, including its potential to increase alcohol-related crime in a city where pubs and clubs are already at saturation.

Licensing Officer Mitch McKenny also questioned Dialena’s motives for wanting the licence, saying it was “quite clear” that the sole purpose was to make the golf course more attractive to “on-sell”.

“The applicant has provided no evidence to satisfy ... that the overall social impact of the licence will not be detrimental to the well-being of the local or broader community,” Constable McKenny says in his submission.

But a spokesman for Dialena said the law prevented it from holding the existing club licence which, he said, would be handed in once the hotel licence was approved. 

John Cowley said without the licence Dialena would be unable to secure the hundreds of thousands of dollars in finance it needed for the upkeep of course which was “fast falling into disrepair”.

It would also put any future plans to create a resort style complex in jeopardy. 

“If this (licence) application should fail, we predict that within a few months the course would not be playable in the form we know it (and) this could result in closure,” Mr Cowley said in an open letter he penned in response to the police officer’s objection.   

A liquor licensing consultant hired by Dialena told the BDT yesterday that a final decision by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority could still be months away.

But Mr Cowley suggested Dialena does not have that long. 

“The owners do not desire that the course should be mothballed,” he said.

“However by the end of April if negotiations with the objecting parties fail, and Dialena is unable to find a commercially and workable solution to this ludicrous situation, it will be forced to place the course under a managed holding maintenance program until further notice.

“If the course deteriorates in the meantime it will be closed immediately to play.”

Mr Cowley told the BDT that another reason police objected to the application - Dialena did not have development approval for its proposed hotel - had since been resolved, with DA approval now secured. 

The golf club has also condemned the stance by police, with president Glenn Williams saying it came just as the club and the owner appeared to be making progress after years spent in the wilderness.

If the course was forced to close, he said, it would result in the loss of at least eight jobs, as well as one of the most popular sporting and social venues in the city.

“It would have a devastating effect on the community,” Mr Williams said.

“The sport of golf will be dead in Broken Hill.”

He dismissed concerns the course could be sold off, saying the golf club had a 100 year leasing arrangement in place with Dialena or any future owner. 

“So what if they sell it, it’s not like they can pick it up and take it (somewhere else).”

He also rejected suggestions the granting of the licence would result in another Night Train disco.

“It’s just a normal hotel licence ... I know they’re not looking to stay open until 2am.

“There’s no plans for a disco.”

But he said Dialena did have plans to turn the course into a resort style golf club that “will create even more employment”.

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