Tweed Daily News

Council, iBar row's bizarre twist

AN escalating row between the operator of the iBar adult-themed restaurant in the heart of Tweed Heads and Tweed Shire Council yesterday moved from legal threats to the bizarre and whacky.

The Council, under fire from some quarters for sitting by while publicity about the lap-dancing bar explodes, has thrown a veil of secrecy over what action it might take, while iBar operator Warren Armstrong has pulled off the covers on what he thinks about the Council.

Mr Armstrong organised a cartoonist to draw a sign de-picting the mayor in a sexual pose - sparking further complaints from a nearby boat hire operator.

Cr van Lieshout was portrayed demanding payment of council fees which Mr Armstrong says he has paid, warning he will fight the issue in court.

Mr Armstrong claimed the iBar was at least brightening up the Tweed Heads CBD which the Council had allowed to deteriorate.

“The town is tired. It's run down,” said Mr Armstrong.

“Whether the Council is capable of doing anything is questionable. Since we've been there nobody has even been out with a paint brush. The place is stagnating.”

Mr Armstrong made no apologies for the naughty cartoon - the latest in a series of signs he has prominently placed outside his restaurant.

But Trev Arbon, who runs Big Trev's Watersports at Jack Evans Boat Harbour hiring paddle boats, kayaks and sailing catamarans, said it had “crossed the line”.

“I'm trying to get kids down here for the business and it's not helping,” Mr Arbon said, adding that the drawing had been attracting a crowd of people

A Council spokesperson said no official complaint had been received.

On Thursday night councillors decided the issue was simply too hot to air in public.

They were given a document by iBar building lessor Adrian Wright before discussing the issue in a confidential session where they deferred any action until a special meeting next week after they get further “advice”.

Council staff had recommended the Council take legal action against the iBar for alleged illegal renovations, using the building in a manner different to the original restaurant approval and allegedly not paying $31,000 in building-related fees.

Mr Armstrong claims all the necessary fees have been paid in full.

He said he now believed the Council was “running scared.”

“I'm not mucking around about taking them to court,” he said. “I think they knew they'd immediately be in court. The ground they are on is not that good.”

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