‘Sorry mate’: Maribyrnong mayor apologises to bar owner caught up in red tape nightmare
Maribyrnong Mayor Michael Clarke has apologised to a small business owner who was caught up in council bureaucracy over a marquee.
Owner of Seddon bar and restaurant Charles and Gamon, Eamon Walmsley, put up an outdoor marquee so he could serve more patrons while abiding by COVID-19 distancing rules.
He had an application for the marquee approved by Maribyrnong Council in April, and even paid $163 for a letter from the council’s urban planners to prove they’d approved the structure.
“We got approval in writing from urban planning at Maribyrnong City Council. That was on April 21st,” he told Neil Mitchell.
It was erected recently, but last week, council inspectors told him it was classed as a permanent structure when it should be temporary, and he had a week to tear it down or police would be called.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time, with Mr Walmsley’s business also forced to pivot to takeaway only for Melbourne’s fourth lockdown last week.
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“My intention was never to get into a battle with anyone on this,” he told Neil Mitchell.
“I was really just trying to create a dialogue with council to see what can be done to make the marquee up to code.”
Press PLAY below to hear Mr Walmsley’s plea
3AW Mornings contacted Maribyrnong Mayor Michael Clarke and urged him to help Mr Walmsley.
Thankfully, Councillor Clarke has brought some common sense to the situation.
“There’s going to be no taking down of the marquee,” he told Neil Mitchell.
“Our people have worked to the law, unfortunately in this case the law was not really very just.
“I think particularly at this time … we’ve got to work to a culture of kindness and work with the small business community.
“Eamon … sorry about this mate, we do beg your pardon. Our people are doing their best but sometimes we get it wrong.”
Press PLAY below to hear Maribyrnong Mayor Michael Clarke’s response
Image: Eamon Walmsley / Instagram