Supporters of the iBar
Supporters of the iBar

Councillors give iBar thumbs up

THE operator of the controversial iBar adult restaurant in the heart of Tweed Heads could face little more than a slap on the wrist after council staff recommended a backdown from the previous hard line against alleged breaches of council rules.

Councillors were infuriated when the restaurant opened as a lap-dance bar early this year and in June voted at a behind-closed-doors session to take the matter to court in a bid to force owner Warren Armstrong to dance to a different tune.

At tomorrow’s council meeting they are being urged by senior staff to back off because a win in court is not certain and the council “would likely be up for court costs if unsuccessful”.

Chief planner Vince Connell has recommended “court action not proceed”.

In a report to councillors he says allegedly illegal building work should also stay because “the new works have given the aging building an uplift and result in a much better looking development overall”.

Yesterday Tweed mayor Warren Polglase defended the proposal saying it was the best way to get the operators to comply with council rules.

He said the iBar had also toned down its entertainment and the council had not received any complaints “for a long time”.

“We are trying to get them to comply. This will allow that to happen,” he said.

“We don’t want to tear it down. They have tidied the place up and it looks quite nice.”

“We are trying to be fair and reasonable.”

Mr Armstrong, a former strip-club entrepreneur who hit headlines in 2007 when he opened a topless “Babes and Bubbles car wash” in Brisbane, has maintained his restaurant complied with relevant rules.

He has also disputed council claims he owed over $31,000 in development fees saying the necessary funds had already been paid.

Mr Connell has recommended the council now ask Mr Armstrong to lodge an extra application to modify his previous development approval “incorporating all unauthorised building works”.

However if that is not done within 21 days council officers “will seek further legal advice about an appropriate cause of action in regard to the unauthorised building works, including the option of the issue of a penalty infringement notice”.

He has recommended the disputed fees “not be pursued” and those so far paid be “recognised as credit for any future development of the subject site”.

In his report Mr Connell said work at the iBar next to the council’s newly opened tourist information centre beside the Jack Evans Boat Harbour “consist of an awning over part of the northern and eastern external decks” as well as changes to the approved internal layout.

He said an alternative to asking Mr Armstrong to submit an application to validate the changes was to proceed with legal action “which may incorporate the removal of all unauthorised works to date by way of reinstating the building to how it was originally approved”.

“Whilst this is a valid option it is not considered to be the most practical in that the new works have given the aging building an uplift and result in a much better looking development overall,” Mr Connell said.


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