Wednesday, 15th September, 2010
The owners of a take-away food shop say they will continue to trade outside their permitted hours on weekends despite being slapped with a $3,000 fine.
The business, Late Night Kebab, received the fine from City Council this week after staying open beyond the hours set out in its development consent.
Council canvassed nearby residents and police before deciding to restrict the shop's hours to 1am on Friday and Saturday as part of a six month trial period.
But since opening eight weeks ago, the Oxide Street business has been operating until 4am on the weekends - and advertising the hours - in flagrant breach of the conditions.
Part-owner Sheldon Marsh yesterday defended the decision, saying that the period after 2am on weekends was the "busiest time of the night" for the business.
He also said that since opening the shop hadn't experienced any of the problems that were raised by Council or the police.
"We've had no fights, no complaints," Mr Marsh said.
A report to Council recommended against the 4am closing time because, it said, the shop was in a residential area and consideration needed to be given to "noise and anti-social behavioural issues".
Police also were not in favour of the hours, telling the council that areas with late night trading food outlets experienced a "significant increase" in alcohol-related crime.
One neighbour also raised concern about the effect the shop's presence would have on residents if it opened past midnight.
But Mr Marsh said the business had hired two security guards to work from 11pm to 4am on Friday, and from midnight to 4am on Saturday.
Other conditions imposed by Council included the installation of security cameras and that no tables or seating be provided for customers.
Mr Marsh said it could even be argued that the shop was completing a service for the community by providing food to intoxicated customers.
He also questioned the timing of the fine, which arrived after police paid the shop a visit last Friday night, and again the next evening, to ask why it was operating outside its permitted hours.
"If Council were so concerned about it we would have got a fine the first time we opened late.
"We plan to take it court. I think Late Night Kebab is doing Broken Hill a service."
Mr Marsh said police were only against the 4am closing because they did not want the "extra duties" of patrolling the area at night and moving people on.
"That's the only reason they (expressed) concern in the first place.
But local Crime Manager, Inspector Mick Stoltenberg, said that recent history showed that smaller centres suffered when shops extended their operating hours.
He said people, particularly those affected by alcohol, tended to "gravitate" to those shops when there was nowhere else to go, and that's when trouble started.
He cited the example of the Shell Memorial Service Station, which used to operate for 24 hours before residents and police complained about the behaviour of the large number of youth who regularly congregated at the service station.
Insp Stoltenberg said that while police were not against anyone trying to start a new business, the wider community needed to be put first.
"Prevention is better than cure," he said.
"It would be neglectful if we did not pay an area which had the potential for being a hotspot any attention."
He pointed out that it was also Council that had imposed the operating hours, not the police.
Council's group manager sustainability, Peter Oldsen, said that before the fine was issued there had been "numerous discussions" and correspondence with the owners regarding their non-compliance with the conditions.
He also said the shop's operating hours were not the only issue concerning Council.
"There are other breaches involved," he said.
The shop is on a six month trial period, with final approval dependent upon a review of the operation including its compliance of all conditions.
Mr Oldsen said Council intended to consider the consent at its next ordinary meeting during a closed session.