Auckland Council have hit back at claims their last-minute refusal to allow fireworks at Saturday's Vodafone Springs Speedway on Guy Fawkes night has threatened to ruin the event.
The Herald reported earlier that the council's facilities arm, Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA), reneged on a written approval, sent a week ago, that fireworks planning for the event met all requirements - leaving the promoter fuming and thousands of families disappointed.
Promoter Greg Mosen claimed this move was part of the council's campaign to force the speedway from the venue and out of the city.
Not true, says the RFA's Chief Operating Officer Paul Brewer.
"Contrary to some reports today, RFA has given permission for a fireworks display in Western Springs Stadium as agreed with Speedway promoters, Springs Promotions Ltd (SPL).
"We were informed today that the pyrotechnics operator has now withdrawn from providing his services to SPL for the Saturday night speedway event," Brewer said.
"In previous years, firework displays at concerts and speedway events at Western Springs have operated under a height limit of 25m. To try to accommodate SPL's latest request for a fireworks 'extravaganza', RFA agreed to relax this pre-existing height limit, increasing the allowable height from 25m to 30m.
"Despite this, the pyrotechnics operator felt unable to balance the SPL expectation of a fireworks 'extravaganza' with the reality of the limits on this kind of activity at Western Springs."
Mosen earlier told the Herald the planned fireworks display complied with all restrictions, including the height ceiling of 30m, but that the RFA had lowered the height restriction at the eleventh hour.
The traditional Speedway season-opener is a popular early summer community event that, according to Mosen, has 1000 pre-sold tickets and an expected crowd of around 10,000 people.
"The frustration is that we are now going to spend 48 hours trying to unravel what we've spent the last four months putting together," Mosen said.
According to Brewer, however, the RFA is currently working with the pyrotechnics operator in seeking a resolution between him and SPL for the fireworks to still go ahead along the lines SPL has agreed to over the last few years.
Paul Nesbit, the RFA's Director of Stadium Management, insists there were no fireworks at Western Springs until the ACDC concert in late 2015.
"That was low-level pyrotechnics that was agreed to - not anything significant," Nesbit said.
"Following that concert, when Speedway approached us to do a pyrotechnics display for their opening event in the summer of 2016, we actually agreed to it on the same parameters of what the ACDC pyros were - so a low-level display.
"That is really where we have got to with the consent we have provided back to SPL and their pyrotechnic operator.
"There is no issue with pyrotechnics display other than the fact we have an agreed parameter that Speedway agreed to last year, that they rolled out last year and was successfully delivered with ACDC.
"I signed off on [the same parameters they operated with] yesterday."