Sales to minors mar festival

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 07:36 12/02/2013

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A police sting at the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival at Brancott on Saturday caught nine stalls selling alcohol to a minor.

Inspector Ross Lienert, of Nelson, headed the "controlled purchase operation" and said he was disappointed by the result.

About 70 wine stalls were set up at the Brancott Estate venue, near Blenheim.

"More than 10 per cent of the wineries failed, which is quite high," Mr Lienert said.

He would not name the stalls that failed the sting, but said they would be referred to the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Festival-goers who were 18 years and over were given a wristband when they went into the venue after their age was checked against photo identification.

Festival organisers had told stallholders about the controlled purchase operation about two weeks before the event, Mr Lienert said.

Police had also been at the event briefing to reinforce the message.

"The message was very clear," he said.

"No wristband, no wine.

"If in doubt, check ID. It was unequivocal."

Police sent one underage person not wearing a wristband around the stalls throughout the day.

The stalls that were caught during the sting did not check to see if the underage person was wearing a wristband, Mr Lienert said.

"We're disappointed. All they had to do is look and see if they had a wristband," he said.

"It's obviously a concern that we can further improve in the future."

Police would meet with the wineries and the festival organisers to discuss how they could improve the festival further, Mr Lienert said.

"This is about continuous improvement and doing better."

The overall event was very successful, he said. Only two people had been arrestsed and the crowd had been well behaved.

"It had a really good feel. It was fantastically organised and all the work organisers did before hand really paid off," Mr Lienert said.

"It was a successful event, and it could be better still."

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- The Marlborough Express

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