Disputes could stop liquor sales at Mission gig

By Doug Laing -
Barry Gibb is set to headline the Mission Estate concert in February. Photo / Supplied
Barry Gibb is set to headline the Mission Estate concert in February. Photo / Supplied

The national Liquor Licensing Authority is being called in to resolve disputes which could stop liquor sales at the 21st anniversary Mission Concert.

Police have appealed a Napier District Licensing Agency (DLA) decision granting a special licence to sell and supply liquor at the concert featuring Bee Gees legend Barry Gibb and American songstress Carole King at the Mission Estate Winery, near Taradale, on February 23.

The decision was released on Monday and appealed less than 24 hours later.

The Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA) will now be advised and the licence suspended pending the outcome by a protest expected to be determined by the authority, Judge John Hole.

The judge could order a full hearing or make a decision based on written material.

But if there isn't enough time Winery Concert Holdings Ltd could be forced to withdraw the licence application and seek another complying with the wishes of licensing agencies and police.

Police Hawke's Bay area road policing and alcohol harm prevention manager Senior Sergeant Fred van Duuren said the main concerns were sales in parking and holding areas as people gathered to enter the concert arena.

Also of concern was the lack of a reduced serve option if problems arose during the show.

Despite opposition from police at the December 11 hearing, the special licence was issued allowing liquor sales from 1pm in the parking and holding areas off Church Rd, two hours before sales start in the arena.

In both cases, closing time would be 9pm, about an hour-and-a-half before the end of the concert.

Police say allowing carpark and holding area sales supports forms of "preloading" and BYO freedoms which had been removed after discussions between the parties after previous concerts at the Mission, while organisers have said allowing the early sales helps limit queuing later in the programme.

The decision also maintains that no more than four drinks, or a single 750ml bottle of wine, will be sold to any person at any one time, where police sought the availability of an option to reduce the serve further if necessary during the concert.

That would mean, if implemented, that wine could only be sold by the glass.

Among agreed conditions are that police and the licensee meet hourly during the concert to determine whether maximum serving limits should be reduced.

This year is the third time hearings have been needed to resolve issues aimed to prevent excessive drinking and intoxication at the Mission Concert. The event, first held in 2001, is usually attended by more than 20,000 people.

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