Mount Alexander Shire staff  say no to pokies

MOUNT Alexander Shire staff have recommended the council refuse a planning permit for a new venue with 65 poker machines in Castlemaine.

Maryborough Highland Society wants to build a venue with the machines at a disused railway shed. 

But a report to be voted on by council next Tuesday recommends the proposal be knocked back due to a lack of parking spots and the “detrimental social and economic impacts” the machines would have. 

More than 540 people have objected to the plans and there have been 22 submissions in support of the venue, the report states. 

The council objected to the decision to award a gaming licence and an outcome from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is due shortly. 

Enough Pokies in Castlemaine president David Stretch said he was encouraged by the recommendation to knock back the planning permit. 

“It remains to be seen how councillors will vote,” he said. 

“But it’s obviously a highly charged, highly contentious issue, and we believe that councillors will make the right decisions in the best interests of the community. 

“EPIC’s members and supporters remain ever committed and ever ready to oppose this toxic proposal at every opportunity and at every step during the process.” 

But Maryborough Highland Society general manager Malcolm Brandthorn said councillors should wait for a verdict from VCAT before voting on the permit. 

“Both the VCAT hearing and the planning permit are based on social and economic impacts,” he said. 

“The VCAT decision will have a huge bearing on future legal implications. 

“We’re quietly confident. The social and economic impacts we put forward were accepted by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation which originally handed us our licence. 

“We think we proved there was no net detriment as far as social and economic impacts went.”

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