John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

New council likely to review Mount concert decision

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Thousands of high spirited revellers saw in New Year's Eve at Mount Maunganui Main Beach. Photo/file
Thousands of high spirited revellers saw in New Year's Eve at Mount Maunganui Main Beach. Photo/file

The controversial decision to axe the New Year's Eve concerts at Mount Main Beach looks likely to be revisited next month by the Tauranga City Council.

Last Tuesday's decision by the old council unleashed a storm of protest from the community.

Since then Saturday's election had ushered in four new faces including new mayor Greg Brownless.

Mr Brownless said it was a hot issue and he would be talking to police to seek further information about why they opposed holding the event on Main Beach. He needed the full picture before deciding whether to throw his weight behind a review.

"I need to meet with police to get to the bottom of it."

His understanding was that the New Year's Eve entertainment had originally been a response to the riots of the early 2000s, to make it more family-friendly.

However no review was possible until after the new council was sworn in on October 31, by which time it might be too late to organise a concert, he said.

Phone conversations with the seven re-elected councillors revealed most backed a review even though the result would likely be to uphold the original decision.

Steve Morris said $750,000 was an enormous cost for a night that could be rained out. "How the figures were calculated was open to challenge."

A TV news report predicted chaos if the concert was taken away, but what wasn't said was that the council was doubling spending for security and crowd control, he said.

Kelvin Clout said the new council would definitely want to have another look at it, but he doubted there would be an appetite to overturn the decision, especially given police safety concerns.

Gail McIntosh wanted it relitigated because it was important for the community. However she believed that the new council would return the same decision.

Rick Curach said it seemed nuts not to have entertainment, with the risk of young people getting bored and causing trouble. New Year's Eve at Mount Maunganui was the upper North Island's equivalent of New York's Times Square - it was iconic. He supported a review.

Bill Grainger said it could possibly be reviewed. He opposed last week's decision because of the lateness in which it came to the council.

Mount Maunganui was buzzing at that time of the year and to just can the entertainment was not an easy thing to do, he said.

Catherine Stewart said she was absolutely happy to review it. "I believe that with the amount of money in the budget, we can do a lot better than the proposed event at ASB Arena."

She said a lot of money was going into reducing risk rather than doing something positive. "It is not our job to be police."

Leanne Brown said her understanding was that Mr Brownless wanted to go over the reasons for the decision. Although it was one of the hardest decisions she had to make, she supported not having entertainment because of advice that the event was at tipping point and the risks too great.

New Year's Eve options put to Tauranga councillors on October 4
- Mount Main Beach entertainment, Tauranga CBD fireworks & youth event ASB Arena $784,000
- The same except no organised event on Main Beach $532,000
- New Year's Eve budget for 2016-17 $279,000
Source: Tauranga City Council

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