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  • Rebels Motorcycle Club drops legal battle with Tea Tree Gully Council over Ridgehaven clubrooms

    Rebels Motorcycle Club’s clubrooms at Ridgehaven.

    Rebels Motorcycle Club’s clubrooms at Ridgehaven.

    A SUBURBAN council has done what police and the state government have been unable to do — shut down a bikie clubroom with little resistance.

    The Rebels Motorcycle Club has backed away from a legal battle with Tea Tree Gully Council over its Ridgehaven clubrooms, housed inside a 1.8m-tall fence, and will leave within a month.

    The council deemed it was not an appropriate use of a property zoned light industrial.

    The Advertiser can confirm the outlaw motorcycle group has withdrawn its appeal over planning rules that ban it from holding club gatherings at the Dewer Ave site twice a week, between 6pm and 10pm.

    The Rebels also sought to run larger monthly gatherings, featuring live bands or a DJ, on Friday or Saturday nights.

    But the appeal’s withdrawal means the development will not proceed and the council has been advised the building will be vacated sometime in the next month.

    The Rebels are among the bikie gangs that would be declared “criminal organisations” under proposed serious crime laws, which would also prevent members meeting in clubrooms and other proscribed venues.

    Attorney-General John Rau said the Rebels’ move might not have been motivated by either the council’s actions or the proposed laws, but he was unaware of any outlaw bikie gangs being forced from their clubrooms in SA.

    Former premier Mike Rann famously promised to bulldoze suburban bikie fortresses, but left office in 2011 with his plans thwarted by legal challenges.

    The Mongols bikie gang unveiled a new legal tactic in 2013 by agreeing to remove fortifications at its Thebarton clubrooms, including lowering a 2.4m steel gate.

    The Rebels have been meeting at Ridgehaven for years, but only formally applied for permission after receiving a letter from the council in 2014 saying approval was needed.

    In 1986, the council received and approved an application for a bicycle assembly and repair workshop at the site.

    The council started investigating the clubroom last year, when police requested it look into an alleged unauthorised use of the property, which has security blinds and surveillance cameras, as well as the large fence.

    The Rebels’ bid for retrospective approval, through a group called Old Southern Investments, failed.

    The council rejected its application in November, stating the site — in a light industrial zone next to homes — would create noise and traffic issues.

    The Rebels lodged an appeal against the decision with the Environment, Resources and Development Court.

    “The appeal has been withdrawn so the development will not proceed,” the council said.

    It is not known why the Rebels dropped the case or if the group will seek a new base in the area.

    Old Southern Investments could not be contacted for comment.

    Serious and Organised Crime Branch Detective Superintendent Graham Goodwin said police had been closely monitoring the Rebels’ bid for council approval.

    “Police will continue to actively monitor the clubroom facilities of all outlaw motorcycle clubs as part of its commitment to community safety,” he said.

    “Also of note, the clubroom is listed as a proscribed place in the proposed legislative reform. This will limit their ability to maintain these premises into the future.”

    Mr Rau said the proposed laws would have a simple effect on the Rebels’ clubrooms.

    “It would mean they couldn’t go there,” he said, adding the Rebels might simply have decided to move, despite having spent some years and money at Ridgehaven.

    — with Paul Starick