Bunfight over Long Lunch

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Queenstown’s mayor and council boss say a local event manager’s unfairly maligned their staff.

Malcolm Blakey last week said he’s pulling his Arrowtown Long Lunch, last held two weeks ago, due to council restrictions and resistance.

Council boss Mike Theelen says the accusation left his staff dumbfounded.

“Far from being ob-structive, council staff from the events team, resource consent team and alcohol licensing team have coll-ectively bent over backwards to support the success of the event.”

Theelen says council had significant performance and compliance issues with last year’s event.

Numbers had been significantly exceeded, lead-ing to inadequate waste and toilet facilities and alcohol licence breaches, and rubbish had been left outside Arrowtown’s hall till the next day.

As a result, Blakey had been advised to get this year’s consent application in well in time.

He’d failed to do so, and his application was incomplete. requiring repeated requests for information.

Mayor Jim Boult adds: “Council works hard to streamline event applications for organisers because it values the benefit of great events.

“However, applicants need to work with us, and the majority of applicants in our district do.

“It’s frustrating to hear unfounded criticism of council staff who aren’t given due respect for their hard work nor the opportunity to respond.

“I am very confident that staff have gone above and beyond in this instance.”

Blakey also claimed last week that he’d cancelled The Black Seeds band from the Queenstown Summer Beer Festival, which he also co-organises, as council had reduced consented crowd numbers from 3000 to 2000.

However council arts & events facilitator Jan Maxwell says that’s because the Recreation Ground’s hosting a Super Rugby pre-season game in February.

“There are also concerns about crowd management, due to the implications of the entertainment that Mr Blakey had booked without advising council.”

Replying to council’s criticisms, Blakey says: “It’s understandable staff are going to cover each other’s backs.

“I’m looking forward to my meeting with Jim Boult and Mike Theelen next week and will be bringing along email proof and a report compiled with feedback from other event planners to show them these issues are common problems for anyone who plans events in Queenstown.

“I hope to suggest changes that will help streamline the process for both the council and event planners.”

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