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Police raise Rhythm and Vines security concerns

POLICE raised security concerns at a district licensing committee hearing where Rhythm and Vines applied for a special licence to sell alcohol at its 2017 festival.

Police opposed the application and Sergeant Isaac Ngatai said they were concerned about control of the car park area and the number of security staff responsible for the bag search and car park functions for the festival at which BYO alcohol is banned.

But Rhythm and Vines chief executive Keiran Spillane said the number of security staff had been increased for the festival this year.

The three-person committee, Pat Seymour (chairwoman), Ken Lyell and Diane Taylor, reserved their decision.

Sergeant Ngatai said police had seen the amount of “loading” that took place in the carpark and in previous years there had been very few staff present.

Last year, car search security teams were very busy on the first day, with high volumes of traffic entering the festival for the first time.

Day two was even busier due to the sheer volumes of traffic, to the point that security did not have the capacity to search all vehicles.

Many vehicles were not searched because of the low staff numbers. Staff spoken to by police on the second day said they had worked long hours the previous day.

Too many vehicles to searchThe number of vehicles on the second day got to the point where they could not search all vehicles without causing a backlog on to Back Ormond Road.

There were long periods where many vehicles were not searched and therefore large amounts of alcohol were brought into the car park. There were many instances where police patrolled through the car park and observed empty cans and alcohol bottles strewn next to vehicles.

Police accepted that quantities of alcohol would be smuggled into the carpark area, but this could be mitigated by having sufficient searching staff.

It was not just alcohol. Tthere was a big increase in recreational drugs last year, he said.

Mr Spillane said the number of security staff involved in alcohol management had increased from 35 last year to 63, while the total security staff was up from 186 to 242.

The staff increase was proportionally greater than the expected increase in festival numbers and he believed 24 to deal with car park loadings was sufficient. There would be staff in the car park for 24 hours and all vehicles would be searched.

Mr Spillane said 20,000 patrons would attend the event and they were confident the measures they had put in place would deal adequately with controlling and managing alcohol consumption by the vast majority of patrons.

'Sense of reasonableness'He asked the committee and authorities to apply a sense of reasonableness.

Chief licensing inspector Judith Robertson acknowledged that Rhythm and Vines had made improvements to manage alcohol consumption and limit intoxication. They had recognised the need to control access into licensed areas and intervene early with intoxication.

That would rely on them implementing their alcohol management plan, ensuring they had robust security and security systems, controlling consumption of BYO alcohol in the camping grounds and car park, and robust communications systems.

Adopting conditions she had recommended for the licence would provide confidence that Rhythm and Vines would operate a music festival and camping ground bar areas for patrons to socialise in a manner that met the objects of the Alcohol Sale and Supply Act.

Mrs Seymour said this was a significant event for Gisborne and she recognised the efforts that the Rhythm and Vines team had made.

A decision will be made within 15 working days.

Rhythm and Vines: the view up the hill. Picture by Liam Clayton