The fate of The Bendigo Hotel is now more certain, following a last-minute gathering between representatives from the Collingwood venue and members of the Yarra Council, who yesterday evening convened to resolve a noise dispute stemming from the complaints of a local resident.
The two parties were originally scheduled to attend a meeting at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) today, after a resident who moved into the area in March began contacting the licensing authority, local Council, and subsequently the police, complaining of noise.
Attempts by Bendigo owner Guy Palermo to resolve the dispute proved fruitless, with the owner telling Beat, “He refuses to meet up with me. In four years, this is the only time I’ve had a complaint. Once his lease ends, I’m sure he will be gone, leaving me out of pocket thousands of dollars.”
Palermo purchased the run-down venue four years ago and spent $10,000 refurbishing it into a credible live music venue, which included soundproofing measures and liaising with audio engineers who regularly check the noise levels at the Bendigo, to ensure they are below the allowed limit.
News of the venue’s troubles quickly circulated on the internet, resulting in a social media campaign, a change.org petition that gathered almost 10,000 signatures in 48 hours, as well as offers of help, including offers of resources and advice from Music Victoria and Save Live Australian Music.
City of Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly caught wind of the Bendigo’s plight via social media and arranged a meeting between Palermo and local council in an effort to avoid the matter being handled at VCAT and potentially costing Palermo up to $25,000 in fees, as reported by The Age.
“I was really angry with the council bureaucrats because they’d rushed to VCAT,” Jolly told 3AW this morning. “Taking the Bendigo Hotel and putting it at risk of closure without telling any of the councillors, without any discussion within the organisation.”
“I learned about it via Facebook and phone calls from irate supporters of live music in Melbourne – as they should [be],” added Jolly, who played mediator in the meeting between Palermo and council, who claimed they’d had contact from more than one complainant.
Cr Jolly explained that noise level breaches were a result of ‘guest bands’ using their own equipment and not Palermo’s, which kept within the Environment Protection Authority’s allowed limit, telling 3AW:
“The issue was, when [The Bendigo Hotel] used their own equipment they kept to sound levels, but when other bands came in with their own equipment they sometimes went a bit over the top – so it’s easily fixed.”
According to a post on the official Bendigo Hotel Facebook page, the VCAT hearing has been “stopped” and Bendigo owners are “going in to council as soon as possible & having a round table to work out an interim solution.” The owners thanked Stephen Jolly and Simon Huggins.
(Via Tone Deaf)