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Docklands fish and chip shop fined

Spencer Fowler Steen

The City of Melbourne has slapped new Docklands fish and chip shop Designer Foods 101 with a fine worth nearly $2000 for throwing karaoke nights outside its business on NewQuay Promenade in breach of the property’s planning permit.

But owner Duke Holder alleges he is being unfairly targeted by the council and abused by nearby residents whom he claims have physically and verbally threatened him and his staff, including throwing metal canisters and pointing lasers at their eyes.

Since starting up Designer Foods 101 in September last year during the pandemic, Mr Holder said he had struggled to make ends meet due to a lack of customers and the council making him jump through “unnecessary bureaucratic” hoops before being able to open.

But around February this year, Mr Holder started staging karaoke nights from Thursday to Sunday running from 8pm until 11pm outside his business which he understood was allowed under his liquor licence.

“We had people from all walks of life coming together singing happily,” he said.

“It’s a unique thing to see in this day and age that unity. That’s why I chose to live in Melbourne; because everyone can bond and find common ground.”

However, the karaoke nights have sparked controversy with nearby residents, whom Mr Holder said had been making as many as eight or nine complaints every time he held karaoke.

But Mr Holder said it was “abuse” from “day one” since starting the initiative, which he claims has brought people to Docklands from far away suburbs and stimulated the local economy.

“On day one, a resident came down and banged her fists on the table and yelled at my staff and I,” Mr Holder said.

“A lot of my staff don’t feel safe.”

Mr Holder claims that one night, a man in a NewQuay Promenade apartment was shining a red laser in the eyes of karaoke singers.

“Lasers can blind people,” he said.

Mr Holder said he bought more than $3000 worth of karaoke equipment based on a representation council employees made to him that his liquor licence allowed for entertainment outside his business.

“They said you’re allowed to entertain as long as it’s nothing dangerous or derogatory and as long as it’s below a certain noise level,” Mr Holder said. “Not once did any of them say I needed a permit to conduct karaoke. Police have said, ‘you’re not breaking the law, but film anyone who’s violent and let us know’”.

The City of Melbourne issued Mr Holder with a breach notice on March 3 for breaching one of the property’s planning permit conditions.

The condition states: “no loudspeaker, amplifier, relay or other audio equipment shall be installed or used outside the premises or within an outdoor dining or seating area.”

On March 15, the council served Mr Holder with an infringement notice for continuing with the karaoke nights, issuing him a fine of $1817.40 to be paid by April 15.

“The council won’t give me a permit for the speaker and won’t tell me why, even though Cargo has speakers,” he said.

Mr Holder said he was contributing to the local economy by buying produce from a host of local businesses including fish traders, Woolworths and Costco. While DF101 started with just three staff, Mr Holder said he now employed 14 staff in total.

“Business is hard without karaoke,” he said.

“Council wants to put me out of business, but I’m doing exactly what [Lord Mayor] Sally [Capp] wants by drawing people to Docklands from other suburbs.”

The council declined to comment on the matter. •

Balance

Balance

May 4th, 2022 - Abby Crawford
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