Liquor ban mooted for Labour Weekend

Published on 23 June 2021

empty bottles on grass land

The alcohol-fuelled behaviour of young people celebrating the end of the school year at the Loch Laird campground over Labour Weekend is undesirable and unsafe. As a consequence, the Waitaki District Council is considering a temporary liquor ban and an increased Police presence over Labour Weekend 2021. Parents are also being asked to take a greater responsibility.

After the issue was raised by Recreation manager Erik van der Spek in his report to the November 2020 Waitaki Assets committee, Council began looking into options that might help make the event safer. Several months ago, local NZ Police Officer for the upper Waitaki area, Nayland Smith formed a taskforce to address the main trouble spot, the top paddock at Loch Laird.

Made up of police representatives, Councillors and Community Board members, Council Officers and other community representatives, they have since workshopped this issue and identified four main strategies. These include the implementation of a temporary liquor ban for the top paddock by Loch Laird where the event is located each year, a dedicated parking area, a Police presence, extra camp and security staff, and site improvements including the installation of flood lighting. These changes will be adopted after a campaign of communications and education which would begin several months before the event.

Mayor for Waitaki Gary Kircher said Council was acting to keep young people safe. “While we are mindful of the additional expenditure these strategies will require, it is a small cost when it comes to keeping our young people safe from the very real risks they are exposed to at the annual gathering. Parents are allowing them to attend, possibly thinking their children are safe and at an official event. However, the reality is that there are a number of youth who are only there to get drunk, to get high, or both. And inevitably that leads on to aggression, intimidation, fighting, and a high potential for physical and sexual harm.”

Deputy Mayor Melanie Tavendale is also challenging parents to help out. “We need parents’ help to keep our youth safe, and we need to ensure parents know what their children are doing, and to step up and take responsibility. This year we are asking them to help out at the event itself, and to play an active part in keeping our young people safe. Please don’t just drop them off to fend for themselves.”

Parents who are interested in volunteering some time over the weekend are encouraged to phone Lucianne White on 034330300.