TCDC to pursue court action

Chronophonium Festival organisers and a Tapu land owner will be taken to court and potentially fined $10,000 per person under the Resource management Act.

Over the weekend, 740 people attended the three-day music festival, which went ahead despite an abatement notice issued by the Thames Coromandel District Council last Friday.

Community environment manager Marion Smith says they will be “going to court - we will be prosecuting.”

“The event was abated not to start and they ignored that,” says Marion. “The fact that they ignored it meant they put themselves at risk of breaching the district plan’s noise elements.

“We had offered them another place (Thames Racecourse) to hold the event because they weren’t going to get resource consents soon enough, and they didn’t take the offer up.”

Marion adds: “Council will prosecute because it’s a blatant disregard. They had time to reorganise and we had offered a suitable site for them that had already had a resource consent.

“They were determined to go down the path they wanted to do, it didn’t matter what we said.”

After several noise complaints were made to council a team of police, council compliance and Safe & Sound Security staff seized sound equipment early on Sunday morning.

The organisers received an infringement for failing to abide by a Noise Direction Notice and will be able to collect their equipment after the 72-hour notice has lapsed.

Marion says the main issues for council was in regards to public safety and about the way the festival was managed.

She says there was no security fencing, a lack of security guard numbers at the festival, noise suggestions were not adhered to and traffic management monitoring wasn’t done.

“Even though they put a traffic management plan in [to council] they didn’t even adhere to the plan they put it in,” says Marion. “They were told by police exactly what they would need to do if they were holding an event that needed crowd control.

“And it was a BYO so nobody knew how much alcohol was being brought in, whereas if it was licenced, the licence holder knows exactly who’s drinking and how much they are drinking.

“They also trespassed on council land for their parking and other things.”

Marion says council is pursuing court action because it is “doing what we are meant to be doing, which is managing the environment”.

“We’ve got pristine environments here in Coromandel and we want events but they have got to be well managed,” she says.

“[Event organisers] work with St John’s, with police and the fire brigade. You work with all these organisations that support a safe event, certainly when you’re dealing with large numbers.

“They shouldn’t have held the event, they were told not to, [and] they could have avoided prosecution. They should have taken the offer up of a venue we had offered to them,” says Marion.

But the organisers are hitting back, claiming that council had spread a lot of misleading information prior to the event.

They say information used by council was obtained from “unreliable sources”, such as the number of attendees which council listed as over 1500 on its website.

In an email sent to TCDC mayor Glenn Leach, and obtained by SunLive, festival spokesperson Isabelle Kember says a number of Facebook users had clicked ‘going’, despite being refused tickets once the festival sold out.

“This slip up means that Marion believed that our number of ticket holders was close to double the true number,” she says.

Isabelle says she clarified this with Marion prior to the release of a council press release, which provided the basis for a number of media reports last week and over the weekend.

She goes on to say that the concerns and cause for “shutting us down were for safety”.

“Our abatement notice was concerning sound only. I’m sure that you understand my concerns as having been the person incorrectly quoted in the TCDC press release.

“Multiple people present at the time can confirm that my words were not ‘just fine us’, but were instead ‘we understand’ and ‘yes, we are aware [of the possibility of a fine]’.

Responding to Marion Smith’s comments to SunLive, Chronophonium director Liam Kiely says he has a number of issues with her comments.

He says the Thames Racecourse would not have been a suitable venue for the festival and the organisers also have a timeline of their contact with the TCDC.

“We were not provided with a comprehensive list of requirements from the outset and this was thrown at us haphazardly over a large period of time,” says Liam, “with many delays in terms of them responding to our requests.

“I will provide sworn statements from witnesses who heard our interactions with the police on the night of the 9th which will corroborate that ‘our main concern was safety’ and that the police’s ‘main concern were the regulations’.”

Liam goes on to say that they queried Marion about waste management plans as they intended to minimise waste and maximise recycling.

He states that her reply was: “Well, we don’t just let people bury their rubbish” and has offered to provide sworn statements if requested in court.

Liam further adds that security was reasonable for the event and the organisers had liaised with professional security outfit Red Badge Security, who are responsible for events such as Laneway.

“The Council land [which TCDC claims was trespassed on] will be the area close to the creek which is dictated as belonging to the Crown to a distance known as the Queens Chain.

Finally: “BYO is completely legal within the TCDC’s regulation as we were not selling alcohol and thus did not require a license.”

Chronophonium is an independent festival that promotes New Zealand music and arts, plus fosters a community of respect for both people and the environment.

The festival is completely volunteer run with organisers, helpers, and artists giving up their time to ensure it is accessible for everyone.

“We have found that this approach has created a community of mutual respect and empathy,” says Liam.

“We were thrilled to have so many members of the Tapu community coming down to enjoy this environment.”




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4 Comments

Chronophonium

Posted on 14-01-2015 18:07 | By Jingo Best

Look Rastus and Wisechief, you seem to be getting rather excited without a full appreciation of the facts. Yes Rastus - FREEDOM is important. Especially to bring joy to others. But NOT freedom to inflict considerable suffering on others - like residents living adjacent to the site during the 2014 Chronophonium event which involved 36 continuous hours of extremely loud noise. Probably best to look at the broader picture rather than whitter on about the local council people who are doing their best for the local residents - not a of of druggies down for the weekend. And, Wisechief, were you there? Because if you were you’d know it is NOT well away from a populated area. There are lots of dwellings within sight and even more within earshot. So rather than demonstrate your ignorance and ability to use ultra-emotive language, just calm down.

Rastus

Posted on 13-01-2015 15:44 | By rastus

One of the most important things we used to have before all the educated idiots who could never ever find a proper job are now allocated jobs with local bodies etc by central government to reduce the unemployed numbers was ’FREEDOM’ yes freedom to enjoy our plot of land to develop it to nurture it and to use it to bring joy to others - fat chance of us ever seeing those real freedom days again - Marion you are just one more reason why our once beautiful country and society are slowly fading away - shame on you and your misguided authority - you are there for the people not for some academic rule book!

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Posted on 13-01-2015 13:21 | By mattbz

Yep I agree pretty much, The council didn’t get their cut, so they sent in the police to shut it down

Wisechief

Posted on 13-01-2015 09:26 | By Wise Chief

Can we have nationality & ethnic groupings of those involved, for it appears this is another Stazi-Nazi-POLICE STATE/Council do as I say or I will beat your head in issue via council. From aerial look of site it is well away from populated area & I suspect the reason for this prosecution is because council didn’t get any money via demanding concerts conveners rent their stadium with all its OTHER unmentioned expensive issues. This is typical of NZ today where near every effort to work and act outside of the so called AUTHORISED box is met with vicious and very heavy handed responses which in far to many cases in this country of beaten down cowards is usually a revenge motivated effort by Police or Council staff who are on a power trip and have an insane uncontrollable need to dominate others.Pure nutters ALL.

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