'Underground' Undie 500?

Last updated 12:03 25/02/2008
DEAN KOZANIC/The Press
UNDIE-HAND TACTICS: Canterbury University's Engineering Society says there is a strong possibility of unwanted behaviour around unsanctioned Undie 500-type events.

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Organisers of the annual Undie 500 student pub crawl to Dunedin say a rogue event and "negative behaviour" could still happen despite a veto from Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin.

The Undie 500, organised by Canterbury University's Engineering Society (Ensoc), involves students driving from Christchurch to Dunedin in vehicles costing less than $500.

This year was to have been its 20th anniversary.

The event was marred by rioting in 2006 and again last year when bottles were thrown at police and firefighters battling fires set by drunken students in the city on the night following the car "rally".

Dozens of arrests were made, leading to many convictions for disorderly behaviour.

Mr Chin said last week he expected the event wouldn't go ahead this year after he pulled out of discussions with Ensoc and emergency services' representatives.

Ensoc had submitted a management plan for the event, including bonds and behaviour guarantees, and told the meeting it hoped to stage a concert on the Saturday night after students arrived in Dunedin to give them something to do.

Ensoc said the event would not go ahead officially without the authorities' approval.

But Mr Chin said no and wrote to Ensoc last week saying the Undie 500 was "not welcome".

Ensoc president Graeme Walker told NZPA the organising committee was still "looking into a range of possible options".

"We feel that his (Mr Chin's) decision is risky due to the numbers of people that are showing interest in the Undie 500 in 2008 and that if we are unable to organise the necessary controls and activities (i.e. a concert) then the possibility of unwanted behaviour could be high," Mr Walker said.

Ensoc wanted a chance to "work alongside the authorities" to ensure the Saturday night ran safely for participants and the public.

Mr Walker said Ensoc wouldn't condone an "underground" Undie 500.

Ensoc's "biggest concern" was that if the society wasn't allowed to organise anything for the Saturday night negative behaviour could still happen, he said.

"This is because the blame would more than likely still be pinned on Ensoc."

Mr Walker said Ensoc was currently talking to "various parties" in an attempt to "come up with constructive and mutually beneficial solutions to the issues surrounding the Undie 500".

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