A temporary liquor ban is being considered to combat ongoing problems at Loch Laird at Labour Weekend.
The ban is one of several ideas being proposed by the Waitaki District Council following nearly two decades of alcohol-fuelled “undesirable and unsafe” behaviour from young people at the Otematata camp site. Other ideas include increasing the police presence and encouraging parents to take more responsibility.
Nearly 250 young people attend the “unofficial” event each year, many allegedly dropped off with alcohol from parents. They leave behind broken glass, have damaged toilet blocks, and some have attempted to drink-drive. Last year, St John was called on the first day to deal with stupidity
Earlier this year, workshops involving Ahuriri community board members, councillors, local police officers, and Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher began, and police led the charge for the liquor ban. The workshops identified possible parking sites, more security staff and flood lighting as additional options.
Ahuriri ward councillor Ross McRobie said the ban would be a “test”.
“While it might create some disbursements, it might show parents and people that we really are serious about protecting the people that go there,” Cr McRobie said.
“If it works, fantastic. If it doesn’t work, we have at least tried to address the issues that are being raised.”
Mr Kircher said there “absolutely” were concerns a liquor ban would result in young people moving to another site.
“There’s certainly misgivings around whether it will be effective or whether it will displace the young people from Loch Laird to somewhere else but we’ve been assured by police they will have a very good presence in the area and they’ll be well positioned to respond to changes like that,” Mr Kircher said.
Costs involved were yet to be determined but it was a small price to pay for keeping young people safe from the risks they were exposed to, he said.
Mr Kircher also called on parents to help with security rather than just dropping children off.
“Parents are allowing them to attend, possibly thinking their children are safe and at an official event.”
Mr Kircher expected councillors to vote on the liquor ban in August.