Dealer caught in the crossfire

VINCENT council has ordered a Northbridge firearms dealer to remove security shutters he was forced to install by police in order to keep his licence.

Tony Yozzi and Son Sports has operated on William Street for more than 50 years, but after a series of gunshop robberies around Perth last year, police audited his shop and told him he’d need shutters to keep the guns from sight or they wouldn’t renew his license.

The 93-year-old reluctantly agreed and forked out $13,500, with police on hand to ensure the shutters were fitted securely.

But Mr Yozzi hadn’t sought approval from Vincent council, which has planning rules banning roller shutters so they don’t give streetscapes a fortress-like feel.

Mr Yozzi’s 105-year-old building is also on the state’s heritage register, and while the heritage council said the shutters were unsightly but okay as a temporary solution to the security issue, Vincent’s planning staff dug in their heels. 

They said the shutters reduce “activation” and visibility which could lead to trouble on the street, while it could also set a precedent for other store owners. 

The police firearm division wrote a letter of support for Mr Yozzi, asking the council to “show some compassion”. 

The elderly trader was laid low by a dangerous flu last year and had to close the shop while he recovered, and the installation fee was a big financial hit.

His family wrote it was “causing immense unnecessary stress” on him and asked for some grace until the business transitioned away from selling firearms. 

• Mr Yozzi’s shop was all shuttered up on Wednesday, but the Voice has heard that since his illness he no longer opens every day.

Compromise

Mayor Emma Cole came to Vincent’s February 11 meeting armed with a compromise two-year temporary approval, but it was voted down by a majority of her councillors (Crs Alex Castle, Joanne Fotakis, Dan Loden, Josh Topelberg and Ashley Wallace favoured removal, while Ms Cole and Crs Susan Gontaszewski, Jonathan Hallett and Sally Smith wanted the compromise).

Once council staff send off the notice Mr Yozzi will have 28 days to remove them. 

Vincent planners say there are options that to satisfy both heritage rules and police standards.

One option adopted by some gun stores is an inner vault where all firearms are stored at night. 

It’s expensive to install and as Yozzi and Son has a lot of stock, it’d take hours to carry everything from the vault to the display and back every day. 

by DAVID BELL

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