Suburban Club’s last drinks?

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It could be lights out for the Nelson Suburban Club after members were told last week that it cannot continue to operate in its current building, due to its “unsustainable” debt.

That means the club may have to sell its Tahunanui Drive premises and either try to buy or lease a cheaper venue, or merge with another club. The only way it could stay in its current venue was the highly unlikely scenario where a donor came on board with a $2million, interest-free loan.

Board chairman Ross Strawbridge told the members that the club was saddled with too much debt, taken on when the club expanded its premises in 2005 and again when it bought a car park to comply with a council bylaw in 2010. Last year the club told members that it had discovered that its IRD payments were not being made and it owed $200,000 in taxes. It also owed a further $100,000 to other creditors.

Ross says since then the board has worked with its bank and the IRD but servicing the debt means staying in its current building is no longer an option. “It is the intention of all members of the club, including the board and executive, to see the club continue into the future,” says Ross. “However, it cannot continue in its present format due to the heavy cost of servicing the bank loans and the continuing decrease in income.”

He said there has been a 35 per cent decrease in gaming machine takings in the past three and a half years, an important source of revenue for the club.

The Nelson Suburban Club isn’t the only club in the country facing difficulties and Nelson city’s own Maitai Club sold its building in 2009 after striking financial problems.

Ross also addressed the recent “rampant rumours” that the club had been approached by a church to sell the premises and that it had not been paying its bills, staff or the IRD. He said all were false.