Bureaucracy stomps on concert

Canadian band The All Day Breakfast String Band.

I hate to waste people’s time, but that’s what I did with part of last week’s column.

It turns out that one of the gigs I wrote about has been cancelled.

The latest concert in Rosie’s avocado shed in Te Puna on February 8 is off.

Illness? Act of God? Sadly not.

It seems the concert was nuked by the forces of bureaucracy at Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

Clearly people having quiet fun on a private avocado orchard was unacceptable to them, so they have exercised their right to protect the public from anything that might cause too much pleasure.

Perhaps I might provide a little background.

Te Puna used to have a hall.

There were concerts.

Quiet a few actually, and quite a few of them were organised by Rosaleen Holmes, who for years has hosted low-key folk concerts.

But Te Puna needed remodelling, so now it has a really big roundabout instead of the hall. The good people of Te Puna (who also used it for yoga classes, community groups and other functions) are now waiting for a replacement. This could take a while.

A new venue

In the meantime, Rosie emptied out an avocado shed on her property and for the past few months has been holding small concerts. The biggest, a touring Canadian bluegrass band, drew a crowd of around 50. People pay $15 or $20 - which all goes to the musicians - to reserve a seat. That’s it.

Rosie doesn’t do this for the money.

I was at the Canadian concert.

Rosie didn’t have a liquor license so she just bought a couple of bottles of wine and gave it to people. I can’t emphasise enough how small and non-commercial this is. Just a little house concert, but in a shed.

For the February concert (a trio favouring Eastern European folk music) Rosie wanted to be above board so she popped along to the headquarters of the WBOPDC to get a $60 liquor license. And as the nice woman on the phone said to her later: “The problem was you applied for the license – that put you on our radar.”

Actually, her visit was uneventful.

She drew up a quick plan of the  event, they said it was okay and they sold her the liquor license.

But then an email arrived.

Details details

It seems they’d had a meeting of  the Technical Steering Group (TSG) and decided that Rosie needed to supply more details or to apply for planning consent - a Certificate of Compliance (Coc).

Now a Coc costs $450, and was clearly not an option, so Rosie was a tad miffed - especially after already paying for the liquor license.

This was some of the information they wanted: duration of the activity; scale of the activity; access; parking; traffic generation (may need to obtain traffic management plan from professional); noise (may need professional report – acoustics); dust; plans: site plan of location, carparking, venue area.

Remember, this is an event drawing a maximum of 20 vehicles where the two neighbours both get invited. “One always comes,” says Rosie, “the other never does.” And noise? The Canadian band used one single microphone between them.

But even that wasn’t enough. A phone call from Rosie trying to explain how this was possibly overkill elicited a further email.

It let Rosie know that: “Staff had many a discussion about the upcoming events within our district in 2018 and beyond and we are requiring all events to show compliance with the criteria. As this triggers the requirement for a certificate of compliance, and due to the time constraints, Council would unlikely be able to provide a certificate of compliance in time for your event on 8 February, 2018. Respectfully I would suggest you defer the event to be held on the 8 February, 2018. May I suggest you apply for a certificate for your next events.”

Or, to paraphrase: “We’re killing your event. There’s no real reason. Too bad. And we’re making sure you can’t have any more events.”

Organisers of local concerts - you have been warned.

watusi@thesun.co.nz


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