Licensing Court 1921 hearings

From Hotels of Ballarat

In February 1921 the Licensing Court began a series of hearings into closing a number of hotels in Ballarat and district.

Background[edit | edit source]

The hearings were part of the process of reducing the number of hotels in Victoria. Through community consultation, and Local Option polls, the License Reduction Board had come up with a formula which allowed for a certain number of hotel per head of population. Beginning in 1888 the board had slowly reduced the number of hotels by cancelling the licenses of those which were deemed as not being necessary. Licensees and owners were paid compensation for being forced to close, the amount being based on the size of the trade, and the commercial value of the building if not used as a hotel.

The hearings[edit | edit source]

The hearings commenced in Ballarat on 2 February 1921:

CLOSING A SEBASTOPOL HOTEL. BALLARAT. — At a special deprivation sittings of the Licences Reduction Board at Ballarat on Wednesday, evidence was given in regard to the matter of the closing of one of the hotels in the Sebastopol licensing area, following upon the result of the local option poll taken at the recent general elections. The hotels in the Sebastopol licensing district are as follow: — Royal Mail Hotel and Exchange Hotel, Sebastopol; Cattle Yards Hotel, Ballarat West; Ballarat and Grenville Hotel, Royal Exchange Hotel, Scarsdale; and Court House Hotel, Smythesdale. The owners and occupiers of these hotels have been called upon to show cause why their number should not be reduced by one-fourth.

When the court opened, Mr. D. Clarke, who appeared on behalf of the owners and occupiers of some ot the hotels concerned, raised an objection to the proceedings. He stated that, since the election, one of the licences in the district, the Railway Hotel, Newtown, had been surrendered, and the court had no power to close any more hotels under tho mandate given by the electors. Mr. F. R. Mann, who also represented interested parties, said he supported Mr. Clarke's contention. The question was what were "existing hotels." The Chairman (Mr. R. Barr): There is a Supreme Court decision on the point. Mr. Mann: I submit that the case of the Clarendon Hotel, which you refer to, is not analogous to the present position. The Chairman: But the underlying principle is the same. The argument there was that all hotels legally trading on the day of the election and the local option poll were existing hotels. The deprivation court has nothing whatever to do with the Licences Reduction Board. The court cannot take cognisance of what is done by the board. The act made reduction by the court mandatory after the electors had declared for that proposal.

At the conclusion of lengthy legal arguments, the chairman intimated that the court would proceed with the taking of evidence regarding the several hotels in the Sebastopol licensing district. Inspector Robinson, licensing officer, gave evidence that, in his opinion, the six hotels in the Sebastopol licensing area were necessary. The weakest of the six hotels in question were the Ballarat and Grenville, Scarsdale; Court House, Smythesdale; and Royal Mail, Sebastopol. He would take them in that order. Several other witnesses, including members of the police force, also gave evidence. The sittings had not concluded when the court adjourned until next day, when the closing of the Black Hill Hotel, in the Dowling Forest area, will be reconsidered. This matter will have some bearing on the decision of the court as to the hotel to be closed in the Sebastopol area.[1]

Hotels reviewed[edit | edit source]

The following hotels had their licenses reviewed during the board hearings:

Decisions[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1921 'LOCAL OPTION RESULTS.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 3 February, p. 8. , viewed 12 Jan 2020,