The fight for Sydney’s legendary pub, The Sandringham Hotel continues, following the announcement it would be going into receivership with debts of $3.2 million.

Despite standing at its current location in Sydney for more than a century, and establishing itself as an essential part of Sydney’s live music scene, The Sando’s financial struggles risked owner and operator, Tony Townsend, to potentially close its doors after nearly twenty years in operation.

Earlier this month however, we reported how some interesting developments came to light, as The Sando teamed up with advocacy group, Unhappy Banking, to bring to light the questionable business practices of the venue’s bank loans from BankWest.

The $3.2 million in debts covers BankWest’s original loan for the hotel’s mortgage with St. George banks, while $300,000 in renovations were also to be accounted for, the banks demanding that Townsend and The Sando’s assets would be liquidated to pay for the loan.

The Sando, in conjunction with Unhappy Banking, allege that there was “unconscionable conduct by BankWest, now owned by the Commowealth Bank;” who recalled the $3.2 million loan on the legendary pub rock venue because it was deemed too ‘high risk’, rather than its inability to keep up with its payments.

Particularly shifty given The Sando consistently paying its bills and maintaining its importance as one of the few remaining pubs in Sydney who retained a live music model, running up to 140 gigs each month.

Now, the community is throwing their support behind the venue and bringing awareness to what is some allegedly dodgy dealings by the banks behind The Sando’s receivership.

A new petition has sprung up online urging to ‘Save Our Sando (And The Live Music Industry)’, appearing on the crowd campaign start-up website, Community Run.

Addressed to “MPs, Councilors, CEOs, famous performers [and] people power”, the new petition highlights that “the iconic Sandringham Hotel is one of up to 1000 of BankWest commercial customers who have been forced into receivership in questionable circumstances, using questionable processes, following a change in its lending after being purchased by the Commonwealth Bank.”

The petition also indicates the senate inquiry that The Sando and Unhappy Banking were seeking, and that “based on the evidence submitted by BankWest, the seante committee may proceed to a Royal Commission.”

The legal groundswell is now being backed by the petition organisers, responsible for the website, and with the addition of support from “most media outlets and Unhappy Banking Group” the Save Our Sando group are ready to take the bank on head on.

But that’s only half of the solution say organisers, who say that “without significant and immediate support from the music industry and the public, Sydney’s live music scene is set to lose the Sando one of the few remaining grass roots ‘live’ venues, which hosts over 120 gigs per month.”

Now, taking a leaf out of the history books when The Tote in Melbourne was struggling under excess government regulation and announced it was going to close it doors, Save The Sando are organising a rally much like 2010’s SLAM Rally.

The Sydney Park authority, City of Sydney Council and the LAC Police of Newtown & Redfern have approved the use of Sydney Park for the Save Our Sando Concert & Rally followed by a March up to the Sandringham Hotel this Sunday, 26th August 2012.

This huge day of support will begin at midday with a strong line up of local and profile acts playing the main stage, and they assure there will be something for everyone. A number of speakers from the political arena, music industry, artists and the local community will also appear, all supporting the cause to save the iconic venue which is the Sandringham Hotel.

Picnics and families are welcome. Bring a rug (and the rug rats) for a great day out. There will be amenities, merchandise, information centre, Unhappy Banking stalls and Petition registration.

The music and main stage activity will continue to around 4pm, at it’s completion the crowd will march up King St to the Sando as sign of solidarity and support, with organisers no doubt keen to replicate the success of the SLAM Rally in Melbourne.

The Melbourne music community at the time was galvanised by the closure of iconic pub The Tote, which served as a lightning rod that eventually erupted until it saw 20,000 people at the foot of Victoria’s Parliament demanding a change to the law.

The unprecedented backlash forced the then Labor Government to capitulate on the issue resulting in a range of changes to existing laws and a new funding for organisations to better foster the live music scene in Victoria. It also claimed the scalp of then-Director Of Liquor Licensing Sue MacLellan who was promptly removed from her post.

But The Sando’s problem may prove to be a nut that’s harder to crack. The Tote’s closure was the direct result of government, whereas the Sando is threatened by a very different, and less accountable beast – a bank.

This makes it all the more important that if you are in Sydney on the 26th August you make the effort to go down and show your support. This battle can be won, because the biggest weakness any business has is bad publicity, and a very public protest is very bad publicity indeed.

The Save Our Sando organisers are now seeking support on a number of levels and understand people may be willing and able to offer on different levels.

1) Show of support – Those willing to put their name to the cause.
2) Perform / Speak – Those willing to perform or speak at a public rally being held in Newtown on 26 August 2012.
3) Other – Any other suggestions or offers of assistance in terms of resources, mailing lists, vox pops for use online etc. (see questionnaire attached)….

If you can help out in any way, you should contact [email protected]

Save Our Sando Rally
Sunday, 26th August 2012
Sydney Park , Midday – 4pm