Hamilton's mayor is making a last-ditch attempt to save Hamilton's annual Great Kiwi Beer Festival from going down the gurgler by getting the parties involved to meet one final time.
It comes after the event's organiser said it was cancelling the event due to new and "untenable" conditions laid down by police and the Waikato DHB.
Hamilton City Council says it has been blindsided by the organiser's decision to cancel the event at the council-owned venue due to licencing issues and is now stepping in to try and come up with a solution.
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate said she was keen to keep the event in the city.
"I've had good positive discussions with Police this morning on this issue and I'm hopeful of getting all parties back around the table," she posted.
More than 6000 people, up 20 per cent on last year, attended the event in March despite the impact of Covid-19 on the public and brewers.
A string of Kiwi artists, including The Black Seeds and Hollie Smith, also played to the hearty crowd in perfect Waikato conditions.
Southgate's deputy, Geoff Taylor, has also expressed his frustration on social media about the decision which he felt lacked "commonsense".
"I wish the Police and DHB had discussed the matter with us first. It's come as a total surprise. I'm gutted by this - a day after we celebrated Claudelands Event Centre's 10th birthday and a new naming sponsor."
He said the council now needed to focus its energies into getting the event back to Claudelands Event Centre.
The organisers said they had already made "a number" of concessions for its event next year, despite there being no arrests or treatment by St John for alcohol harm since it has been held in the city the past two years.
Festival organiser Callam Mitchell said they had withdrawn their application for next year's festival as they felt local authorities didn't want it held in Hamilton.
The organisers attended a hearing in January and made a number of concessions to appease concerns about getting their licence, including reducing the operating time, removing the VIP area entirely and increasing the number of duty managers to 70.
But that wasn't enough for Hamilton's liquor licencing team, he said.
"The unrealistic conditions that the Tri Agency in Hamilton are wanting to place on our alcohol licence would mean we're unable to deliver the festival without seriously diluting it, which would have a negative impact on the customer experience as well as the trade for breweries."
He said some of the police and DHB objections, "left us scratching our heads, and left us with the feeling that they simply don't want the event to take place, so we have decided to withdraw our application and not proceed with the festival".
The event had been held in Christchurch since 2012 and had worked hard to build the event into "a fantastic celebration of the craft beer industry in NZ", according to its Facebook page.
"We were genuinely excited to bring the event to the North Island and chose Hamilton as our new home for a variety of reasons."
"Ultimately police and the DHB want to continue to impose further restrictions on the event, despite themselves having the power to close any stand on the day that they considered was acting in a manner not consistent with the alcohol management plan and/or the Sale & Supply of Alcohol Act, but chose not to do so."
Mitchell said he was also a bit perplexed at the almost identical objections from both police and DHB.
He said some of their objections included reducing service times by another hour - which had already been reduced for 2021; because some breweries were playing music the event was now more a "concert", people were seen with festival wristbands on heading into the city afterwards.
In their view that meant the "amenity and good order to the locality has been reduced", there wasn't enough shade, people were sitting on the grass due to a lack of seating options and they wanted a system where the number of drinks could be restricted.
Hamilton City Area Commander Inspector Andrea McBeth said although police wanted the city and community to be able to enjoy events like these, police also need to ensure safety and address social harm caused by intoxication.
Waikato Police submitted recommendations to the promoters of the event to address concerns around liquor licensing and sale of alcohol and security onsite, McBeth said.
"It is disappointing the promoter has elected to withdraw their application, rather than work with police on this occasion.
"Police are never out to ruin anyone's fun, but we are concerned about any event which has the potential for harm caused by excessive or inappropriate use of alcohol," McBeth said.
She said police works closely with the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority and partner agencies to minimise this harm.
The Christchurch event - set down for January 29 in Hagley Park - is still expected to go ahead.