When the aldermen and Mayor Damien Ryan now seeking re-election, were standing for council in 2008, law and order and alcohol regulation were at the top of the local agenda and there they've pretty much stayed for the four years since. What's new is the dramatic decline of the Alice Springs town centre. Two weeks ago I suggested it might be a "shuddering readjustment"; now it is starting to feel like a nose-dive, with the voluntary administration of the Memo Club and the closure of the Town & Country Tavern made public knowledge on the one day.
The picture is one of a town centre being abandoned, even while we talk about its rejuvenation or revitalisation. The term may soon have to be resurrection.
KIERAN FINNANE looks at where we were four years ago and where we have got to now.
Pictured: Alice Springs closed for business? The southern end of Todd Mall around 6.15pm last night. Dead as a doornail.
When Mayor Damien Ryan talks proudly and with optimism about his relationship with the NT Government, one cannot but wonder what he's on about.
For example where, as Alice Springs lurches from crisis to crisis, is the so-called Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton, and where is his mind?
It's on Tickets are now on sale for the Australian Superbike Championship; he joined hundreds of people at Territory Manor in Mataranka to welcome the handing down of a consent determination that will provide certainty regarding native title and announced that Top End Rugby League fans will have the chance to watch a NRL Premiership points match – on the same day as the people of Alice Springs were coming to grips with the closure of the iconic Memo Club, and another CBD pub, and a public meeting was held to meet the mayoral candidates, grappling with the town's problems which some regard as terminal, voting with their feet. ERWIN CHLANDA comments.
The Alice Springs Memorial Club has suspended trading, gone into voluntary administration and "the committee is looking to establish a fighting fund for the people of Alice Springs to contribute to in the aim of reopening the doors as soon as possible," according to a media release this morning.
And the Todd Mall pub, Town and Country, is closing tomorrow.
Owner Geoff Booth, who is standing for councillor in Saturday's election, says on Thursday the popular drinking spot in the heart of the town will be boarded up and secured with razor wire.
Mr Booth says this follows declining trading over two years to now being just "appalling" and "13 of 14 break-ins" just this year, each causing $800 to $1000 worth of damage.
Mr Booth says his and the Memo Club's problems are very similar: "People are scared of the nighttime activities. After 5pm the town centre turns into a ghost town."
The Memo Club Administrator, Tim Clifton, of Macks Hall Clifton, says the club was in danger of trading while insolvent, and the move will give it a breathing space of one month.
The debts are "not insignificant, but well less than $1m," says Mr Clifton.
The main reason for the problem is clearly "not enough people coming through the door".
During the month a proposition will be made to the creditors, to see if they will "accept some compromises of claims" and if agreed, the club's management will be returned to the committee.
If not the club may be put into liquidation.
Restaurant owner comments from the frontline: Kids thieving for drunks; take-away restrictions nail in coffin of tourism?
The club has set up a "fighting fund ... to satisfy the claims of the unsecured creditors and to provide working capital to reopen the club". The committee says donations will go into a trust fund. Should the fighting fund fail, all cash donations will be refunded. Banks Details: Alice Springs Memorial Club Inc. (Administrator Appointed) BSB: 035-006 account: 300696.
PICTURES: Top - Town and Country Tavern. Note green sign for extended liquor permit application – now withdrawn. Photo by Hans Boessem, Todd Camera Store. Above right - The Memo Club.