By Darren Coyne
Organisers of two events in Lismore have been left thousands of dollars out of pocket after police slapped a 30-hour closure order on Jack’s Bar in Lismore.
The closure order came just a week after 25 police raided the bar, prompting accusations that the venue was being unfairly targeted because the licensee refused to sign the local Local Accord.
Acccording to documents served on the licensee, Richmond Local Area Command Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Lindsey applied for the closure order on 3 March, the day before a protest party was set to take place at Jack’s Bar.
The gathering had been organized by members of Third Eye Productions, who are involved in a legal battle with Richmond Valley Council over the attempted cancellation of a new year’s eve outdoor party at Rapville.
Another party, organized by Just Cause events, was set to feature Spanish DJ Reeko but also had to be cancelled because of the police order notice.
In their application, police claimed that the closure was necessary ‘to prevent or reduce a significant threat or risk to the public interest’.
‘Briefly, the applicant contends, on the basis of the information and other material contained in the Application, that there is a strong indication that management, staff and the licensee are aware of the supply and possession of drugs on the premises and that the business operator and licensee have actively assisted some persons in possession of prohibited drugs at the premises to avoid detection by NSW Police’.
Bar owner, Darren (Jack) Barry has denied the bar was being used to distribute drugs, with last week’s raid resulting in police finding only small amounts of cannabis dumped by patrons when police raided the bar.
Mr Barry believes his business is being unfairly targeted because he has refused to join the local Liquor Accord.
In a post on Facebook, the organizer on Saturday night’s event featuring Reeko, slammed the police.
Kevin Riddell said the closure followed ‘more than a year of highly inappropriate and continual harassment by licensing police to force the venue to become part of the Liquor Accord which the venue has NO legal obligation to oblige’.
‘They have had an inappropriately high presence at events held there by external promoters simply to put pressure on the venue owners, making the events uncomfortable for patrons who have attended, thus obviously lessening the attendance for future events and placing even more pressure on the venue through loss of income – and sadly, also on the promoters who stick their necks out to put on events there,’ Mr Riddell said.
‘During my own conversation with senior licensing officer Wayne Crotty on the night of Resonate on Boxing Day last year, I asked him what would stop him from pressuring the venue, because it’s costing me money as an outside promoter and it all seems a bit extreme.
‘He said that all would be fine if the venue simply joined the Liquor Accord.
‘The situation is black and white – the venue is being pressured with heavy handed tactics to either force them into signing up with the Liquor Accord or else force them out of business.
‘Either way, it’s absolute extreme harassment of the highest order.’
Echonetdaily has attempted to contact the licensing officer Wayne Crotty with no success.