Hunt Ball to lack some festive sparkle
You can lead your horse to the Hunt Ball, but you cannot have a drink.
The South Canterbury Hunt Club is in for a dry ball on Saturday after being caught out by new liquor licensing laws.
The club booked the Caroline Bay Hall, a council venue, 12 months ago. However, when it applied to the Timaru District Council for the liquor licence 16 working days before the ball, it was told by the council it was too late.
Liquor licensing laws changed in December last year, and now state licences must be applied for at least 20 working days before an event.
Convenor Helen Scott said in past years the club would have applied for a licence the week before. It took full responsibility for not getting the licence, but had not been made aware of the changes to allow it to apply correctly.
"We feel the council has let us down with failure to notify us. How could we know?"
Scott said the club tried to apply for a waiver, which can be granted in unforeseen circumstances, including funerals and public holidays, but was turned down.
The hunt club has been around for 133 years and continues the tradition of holding a biennial ball. It is a major club fundraiser.
Master of the hunt Nick Rowley said the situation was disappointing. Up to 350 people attend the ball and the format had not changed over the years.
The club could get around the lack of a liquor licence by making the event BYO (bring your own), but that is not an option, he said.
"The hunt ball is seen as a prestigious event; [BYO] would very much cheapen it."
Council environmental health manager Jonathan Cowie said the council did not have time to contact all parties who might require special licences, but regular special licence applicants and event organisers were advised of the changes by letter.
He said the law for reporting time had always been at least 20 working days, whether it was the Sale of Liquor Act 1989 or Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. However, the previous regime was more flexible.
"The difference now is there are more requirements to fulfil, which put additional time constraints on inspectors, the district licensing committee and the other agencies [MOH, Police] involved, which maximises the time required to process a licence," Cowie said.
The Timaru Herald