Magog anniversary street party not done deal

Last updated 05:00 16/12/2013
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Magog president Russell "Shagger" Gilmer

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Hundreds of people will party on a New Plymouth street if the Magogs get the go-ahead for their anniversary shindig.

Peggy Gordon's Celtic Bar owner Burtie Burleigh has applied to the New Plymouth District Council to close Egmont St overnight for the Magog Motorcycle Club's 40th anniversary celebrations in March, and to get a special liquor licence for the event.

But it's not a done deal.

It is understood police and a neighbouring shopkeeper oppose the festivities, and whether or not the street party happens relies on approval from the council and newly-formed District Licensing Committee.

Magog president and former NPDC councillor Russell "Shagger" Gilmer said the party was following the tradition set at the Magog's 20th anniversary in 1994 when on two nights English rockers Jethro Tull drew a 7500-strong crowd to the city.

"It didn't seem to be an issue then," he said.

The club organised that concert itself and sold tickets by mail order. It went off without a hitch.

"The police stopped 5000 people that weekend and there were no arrests," he said.

But 20 years on, the ageing club, which still has three of its founding members, has decided to downsize the carousing and leave the organising to Mr Burleigh.

As well as an afternoon "show and shine" motorcycle gathering in the Egmont St carpark, the plans are for a stage to be set up so bands Devilskin, Sticky Filth, The Nod, Bullfrog Rata and Shayn Wills can play to a crowd of hundreds.

Mr Burleigh's application to the council shows he expects up to 1200 people to show up and the $47.50 tickets are already on sale through Ticketmaster and at Vinyl Countdown and Peggy Gordons.

He said in regards to the special liquor licence he had been asked about how many patched members and gang affiliates would be at the party, how many had convictions and how many were before the courts.

Mr Gilmer said he couldn't answer those questions.

"I'm questioning why these questions are being asked in the first place. Do the organisers of Womad get asked these questions? It's the fun police," he said.

The appropriate police spokesman could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Mr Burleigh said he didn't expect any trouble.

"I wouldn't do it if I thought it was going to be a nightmare. I've run big parties in the past and this is just another big party."

The council will decide whether to approve the application tomorrow, and the liquor licence will be considered in the new year by the District Licensing Committee.

But Gavin Hayes, who owns Mediterranean food store Vetro on Egmont St, doesn't think the street

is the right venue for the party and has made a submission to the council opposing the road closure.

Mr Hayes said he considered closing the road for the club to be an inappropriate use of public space.

He was also concerned the event would be poorly managed after a street party earlier this year saw the footpath outside his shop closed and the road left in a vomit-dotted mess for hours.

"It gives me no confidence it won't happen again," he said.

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Mr Hayes said he found the Magogs intimidating and had been distressed when Mr Gilmer informed him of the possible road closure.

"They sent the barmaid to all of the other shops on the street and they sent a Magog to tell me," he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News


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