The clamp down on public gatherings for the purposes of entertainment is becoming more and more of a problem. Just last month I blogged about the heavily-policed fiasco that Martinborough food festival has become. The latest comes in the form of the Kurow races, an event that has probably been held for more than a century and I imagine is akin to Tauherenikau on News Years Day, a benign but happy family picnic occasion.
New alcohol rules imposed on the Kumara Nuggets race meeting on January 14 have resulted in a sting in the tail for punters.
The Kumara Racing Club has been required to have 22 private security guards on course, instead of five, and that has pushed up the entry fee from $10 to $15.
The club applied to the Westland District Council in early October for the liquor licence, only to be met with a barrage of new requirements from health authorities, which created a "a lot of uncertainty" around being able to run the meeting next month, committee member Les Guenole said today.
The club had previously been planning to have alcohol-free areas but was instead told to hire more security guards, and was prevented from being able to advertise the meeting as BYO...
In a statement, Westland Mayor Bruce Smith criticised the hoops the Kumara Racing Club had to go.
"Crown (Public) Health, council and the police all became involved and unrealistic restrictions were requested by these parties based on what they say is legislation," Mr Smith said...
It was a turnaround for an event which was described this year by the West Coast police in the local media as "being well run with very few problems".
Being now required to increase security numbers, along with ordinary police presence was "a draconian step," Mr Smith said.
And that is the kicker. In the usual lazy and unjust bureaucratic modus operandi, all events are being punished because some become unruly - or draw a few individuals who are anti-social.
This blanket approach will have a cost. Not just economic.
I heard a brief item on the news yesterday that police were upset with people setting up Facebook pages to alert drivers to the whereabouts of alcohol check points.
The police are losing public support. If they treat us en masse like bad guys then they can expect a reaction.
Earlier this year I heard a second hand report of a police man being very fair to a young individual who he could clearly see broke the law by making a forgetful error. The officer exercised his judgement and did not throw the book at him.
Events should be treated similarly. Authorities could and should exercise some reasoned judgement and discretion.