John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Police to be grilled for more info about call to cancel Mount Maunganui New Year's concert

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A youth is arrested at last year's Mount Maunganui's New Year's Eve celebrations. Photo/File
A youth is arrested at last year's Mount Maunganui's New Year's Eve celebrations. Photo/File

Police are to be be grilled by Tauranga's newly-elected councillors on why they opposed the traditional New Year's Eve entertainment on Mount Main Beach.

Next Tuesday's meeting followed the city's new mayor Greg Brownless saying it was a hot issue that needed further information from police. No decisions could be made at the 3pm meeting because the council had not been sworn in.

The previous council came under fire when it decided on October 4 to axe the beachfront concerts.

Additional information to be presented to next week's meeting included media reports based on explicit teenage posts on a Facebook page dedicated to the New Year's Eve party on Mount Main Beach.

Young people appeared to boast about sexual exploits on the beach, underage sex, and allegations of sexual assault and rape, violent assaults and numerous fights, as well as nudity and photographs of drugs and drug taking.

The then mayor Stuart Crosby told the New Zealand Herald on January 3 that the council would look at the page as part of its post-New Year's Eve event debrief around mid-January.

New councillor Larry Baldock said yesterday that he had concerns around why the council made the decision so late in the piece. ''It was strange.''

The decision was made the day before the recommended final day for posting of election papers to Christchurch.

Mr Baldock said he was particularly keen to hear from the police. He was also puzzled at the spiralling cost to mount the entertainment.

''It is not the council's place to do something in terms of public safety, that is the police's role.''

New councillor Terry Molloy said the planned teenage concert at ASB Arena would not cut it. Thousands would still congregate on the beach for New Year's Eve and it was better to have some controls in place like entertainment, even if it may be difficult. The alternative was that things could get out of hand.

The new face on the council, Max Mason, said he looked forward to hearing in detail why the council, the police and other services took the position they did. ''I'll be going in with an open mind.''

Mr Brownless said he had questions to put to the police at the information-only meeting. He was looking for a better understanding, although he felt it would be ''incredible stupid'' to go against police advice.

He said the issue should have been sorted out a long time ago, and not so close to the election. Mr Brownless was concerned with the ballooning cost to stage the event and the problems of organising the entertainment so close to New Year's Eve if the council ultimately voted to reverse the decision.

New Year's Eve arrests after 2001 Mount riot
2002: 135 arrests
2003: 185 arrests (strict enforcement liquor ban)
2005: 76 arrests
2011: 35 arrests (wet weather)
2013: 52 arrests (11 juveniles)
2014: 21 arrests (lowest in event's history)
2015: 43 arrests (7 juveniles)

- Bay of Plenty Times

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