FIRST it was brothels, then sex shops and now lap dance bars.
Is Tweed becoming the new Kings Cross?
That's what Member for Tweed Geoff Provest fears people will start saying when they hear about all the sex businesses in the Tweed Heads CBD.
“Perhaps comparisons could be made (to Kings Cross),” Mr Provest said.
“I just think it gives Tweed a bad name.
“We are trying to have a certain image and attract a family market.”
Tweed Tourism boss Phil Villiers is also worried potential visitors will be turned away if the Tweed gains a sleazy reputation.
Mr Villiers says it is vital to get visitors to turn right into Tweed instead of heading left to the Gold Coast when they arrive at the airport.
But with a legal brothel, adult stores and a new lap dance bar congregated directly across the border, he says it is a far cry from the “family friendly environment” being pitched to potential tourists.
“We have got a problem with where the iBar is positioned, with the new information centre right next door,” Mr Villiers said.
“It's a very high-profile position right in the heart of Tweed Heads, and that seems to be the concern of most people.
“Tweed is very much a fantastic family destination.”
Mr Provest said he too had concerns about the new iBar, a lap dance bar located next to popular family spot Jack Evans Boat Harbour.
The iBar has generated plenty of vocal opposition from members of the community following its use of advertisements boasting “hot chicks” and using sandwich boards outside the premises to scout for dancers.
Mr Provest said the business had taken it to a “new level” by using women to tout for business.
“They may be operating within the law, but there's got to be some common sense there.
“What deeply concerns me is they are touting on the street.
“I'm going to look at the laws introduced into Kings Cross about touting to see whether they apply to us,” he said.
“I've seen them doing it about 5pm or 6pm in the afternoon, and they move quite provocatively. It is obvious what sort of industry they are in.”
But the sex businesses look set to stay in Tweed - for the time being at least.
Tweed Shire Council's director planning and regulation, Vince Connell, said council had no retro- spective power to move businesses which had been approved in the past.
“Most of the businesses would have been approved years ago and clustered around the border when the Queensland laws were stricter in regards to this type of operation,” Mr Connell said.
“Under the current council LEP, sex-related premises are prohibited, which is an immediate legal deterrent to new businesses being located in this area.
“This does not apply to businesses that are al- ready approved.
“Council has no retro- spective power to force these premises out. The new draft Tweed LEP 2008 Stage One will reinforce this approach.
He said council had invested “significant resources” into planning for the revitalisation of the Tweed Heads CBD and the redevelopment of Jack Evans Boat Harbour as a major “recreational family-friendly and tourist destination”.
“The market reality is that businesses related to the sex industry are likely to move to other more appropriate locations such as industrial areas,” he said.
In the meantime, council is investigating the iBar, which was only permitted to be used as a restaurant.