‘We’re not closing’: Anxious wait for RSL site answer
SOUTHPORT RSL Memorial Club bosses are anxiously awaiting an official answer over whether it will be able to buy the site it operates for a cashed-up revamp.
The club briefed its hospitality operation's 83 staff about its proposed upgrade, which would see new restaurants and cafes created as well as updated facilities.
But no decision has been made by the separate Southport RSL Sub-Branch, which owns the site and building plus looks after veterans' welfare, on whether it will sell to the Memorial Club.
Memorial Club president Mark Tull last night told the Bulletin staff and members were supportive of the plans.
"We had a good staff meeting and told the staff and we are telling members the same thing," he said.
"The plans are underway, we will fight the battles as we get them but we are not closing.
"Everyone I have spoken to has been very supportive. They have made a commercial decision at the sub-branch which was long overdue."
The Bulletin yesterday revealed long-simmering tensions between the Memorial Club and the Sub-Branch had boiled over following a decision to sell the Scarborough Street property both call home.
The Sub-Branch president John Riebeling said the decision to sell was prompted because it "can no longer afford to pay the current mortgage".
The Sub-Branch, with 300 ex-servicemen members, plans to relocate elsewhere in Southport, while the Memorial Club want to buy the site.
The Memorial Club, with almost 12,000 members and the lease to run a bar, restaurant, pokies and live shows, submitted an offer "in line with valuation" to buy the site.
No official response has been received.
Of the state's 240 Sub-Branches, 45 have a relationship with an RSL Club and of those, about one third actually operate the club itself.
Despite fears of closure because of the Southport split, RSL Queensland has moved to reassure veterans that they will continue to be supported regardless of the outcome of negotiations between the Sub-Branch and the Memorial Club.
"In Queensland, RSL Clubs are commercial entities and most are not owned or operated by the RSL," state president Tony Ferris said.
"This is certainly the case with the Southport RSL Memorial Club. It is purely an entertainment venue, which is a tenant in a property owned by the Sub Branch.
"The Southport RSL Sub Branch has not closed and will continue to support local veterans as it has for many years."
Southport RSL was founded in the aftermath of World War I and was established on its current site in 1938. Its existing building was erected in 1996.