Police oppose Gibbston Valley Concert alcohol licence
The Gibbston Valley Winery Summer Concert liquor licence is being opposed by authorities after incidents of people carrying alcohol to the venue in colostomy bags and umbrellas.
Queenstown police, the Ministry of Health and the Queenstown Lakes District Council all opposed clauses in an application by Greenstone Entertainment for a special licence to sell alcohol at its January 21 concert.
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A sell out crowd of about 16,000 people is expected to watch Bonnie Tyler, Alan Parsons Live Project and Icehouse at the popular annual concert.
Under the proposed license every concert-goer would be able to buy about four beers or four ciders and one 750ml bottle of wine each time they go to the bar.
Greenstone are also requesting an hour longer liquor licence than last year - from 10.30am to 5pm for general admission and 11am to 5.30pm for corporates.
In the Queenstown District Court on Wednesday, Sergeant Tracey Haggart told a Queenstown Lakes District Licensing Committee that police opposed the application on the grounds people could buy too much at any one time and that unopened cans would lead to stockpiling.
Haggart was "adamant" beer and cider should be opened upon purchase.
"There's not many events that they would sell closed drinks at," she said.
Police also opposed the hours alcohol could be sold and questioned how Greenstone assessed who was drunk and who was not.
Haggart said there had been instances where people had tried to bring alcohol into the venue including in the form of alcoholic ice-blocks, wine bladders, in umbrellas and in colostomy bags.
"It's impossible to know how much alcohol a person would have consumed before entering the concert. I question why it is necessary to promote the high level of alcohol sales per person. There are still too many incidents occurring."
Haggart highlighted 17 instances of intoxication across the seven concerts including a 2015 incident where a male, ejected from the concert for being drunk, then drank a bottle of Jack Daniels before assaulting an elderly couple who had stopped on the side of the road outside the venue.
She conceded some of the instances may not have been a direct result of drinking at the concert.
Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell said Greenstone's application did not encourage safe and responsible consumption of alcohol.
The Guidelines for Managing Alcohol at Large Events document recommended no more than two standard drinks per serve, he said.
"It has never in my knowledge allowed it to increase to five times the amount. I would say there is a significant amount of harm associated with the availability level. To me it's an excessive amount."
Greenstone Entertainment site manager Dean Calvert said at the 2016 concert two people were arrested and there were three instances of drink-driving from a crowd of over 15,000.
It was an older demographic who attended the concerts in groups of about six, he said.
Typically one of the members of the group would buy the alcohol and take it back to their chilly bin to consume gradually throughout the day.
Reducing the available amount and opening cans and bottles would lead to people becoming more intoxicated more quickly, he said.
The application allowed for all beer and cider purchased after 2.30pm to be opened upon purchase and there would be no sales in the final hour of the concert.
Greenstone recognised stockpiling could happen but security staff did sweeps of the grounds every 45 minutes looking for intoxicated patrons and acted accordingly.
Comparisons made by Haggart and Bell to Rhythm and Alps and Rugby World Cup special licences were unfair as the demographic and hours were totally different, he said.
"Greenstone Entertainment has not once, in six years, breached its liquor licence."
Committee chairman Bill Unwin reserved the decision, which was expected within the next fortnight.