The New Year's Eve tradition of council-organised events on Mount Main Beach could be axed this year following pressure from police.
Tauranga City Council will tomorrow decide on a recommendation to drop the event and stick to only having a youth event at Baypark's ASB Arena.
The report to the 3pm "extraordinary" council meeting followed a confidential briefing to councillors last week on issues associated with last year's event, with a further briefing expected to be held this afternoon.
Council's city transformation manager Jaine Lovell-Gadd has recommended the option of having no organised event at Main Beach, a fireworks display near the CBD and a youth event at ASB Arena. It would include "enhanced city operations and proactive safety controls".
"The New Year's Eve event is the highest risk event in Tauranga," she said.
Ms Lovell-Gadd's report said New Year's Eve had a long history of being a challenging night, with Mount Maunganui a well known destination for young people.
"The council and police have been managing this night, with associated risks and costs, for well over a decade and are still to find a sustainable solution that delivers on the city's desired outcomes."
The alternative option to be considered tomorrow was to continue holding an event on Mount Main Beach, along with CBD fireworks and a youth event at ASB Arena. This would cost the council $784,000 - $505,0000 more than what the council budgeted for the 2016-17 year.
Dropping the Main Beach event would save $252,000 but spending would still exceed budget by $253,000. The extra money would be generated by finding savings in other rates-funded spending.
The report outlined how there were more younger people at the last New Year's Eve event than previous years, with police reporting an increase in public disorder and aggression attributed to higher levels of intoxication.
"Police dealt with serious assaults regularly over the night. There were reports of groups of men taking advantage of vulnerable females. They also reported that vulnerable men were knocked to the ground.
"Youth groups were also present at the event and 43 arrests were reported. It is not necessarily the amount of offending but the serious nature of offending that concerns police. It is anticipated that similar issues with similar groups may arise again.
"Police understand that other planned disorder and retribution could be a risk for any 2016-17 organised event," the report said.
Tomorrow's decision was also based on the council hiring consultant Calum Nicholson of FOAMHAND Ltd, global specialists in city operations and movement management for major events and venues.
Project planning reached the point where the council ordered an independent review of the event and its options.
"This included the option of no organised event but to enhance operations at the Mount Main Beach."
Sport New Zealand's principal events advisor John Dawson was engaged to do the work.
The events specialists said that having no organised event had the potential to increase the risk of public disorder, at least in the short term.
"However they appreciate that the long-term plan to change perceptions and actions will likely happen sooner if the no organised event option was enacted," the report said.
"The legal opinion is that the council is seen as having less risk of liability if there is no organised event at Mount Maunganui Main Beach than if there was [an event]," the report said.
The opinion said the council had a duty of care to support agencies that were responsible for preventing public disorder.
Ms Lovell-Gadd said that unless costs were able to be contained or reduced, the investment required by the council for the event became difficult to support.
"The current perception of New Year's Eve at Mount Maunganui is not appealing to prospective sponsors. There would need to be a significant shift in the event's reputation to achieve this."
Delivering the event also swallowed 2800 hours of time by council project management staff - the equivalent of 1.5 full-time jobs.
Resource consent would also be required to stage the fireworks display on Mt Drury. Initial consultation with key stakeholders has raised concerns and there was a "high chance" that the fireworks would not take place in Mount Maunganui.
Council staff had investigated contingency options for the fireworks display, regardless of which option was chosen, but it was "not looking positive".
The proposal to "enhance city operations" consisted of proactive safety controls and supporting police with emergency response services.
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