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Temporary alcohol ban gets police support

Hundreds of youths flouted alcohol bylaws in Riversdale over New Year’s, with some becoming aggressive, forcing local police to “retreat” to the surf lifesaving club.

The bylaws, which temporarily prohibit alcohol consumption and possession at the beach over New Year’s and Labour Weekend, were again approved last week by Masterton District Council.

They enable greater powers for police than in the absence of a prohibition.

But councillor Tina Nixon said “frightened” Riversdale residents were concerned there was a “reasonably light” police presence over New Year’s to enforce the bylaws and hoped there would be increased police presence this year.

Wairarapa Police Sergeant Steve Cameron said about 600 youths had parked up over New Year’s Eve, armed with chilly bins of liquor, and were drinking on the street.

Many of those who parked up had nowhere to stay, he said.

Other youths “were getting the whole house for New Year’s”.

“There were 200 people at one address.”

About 12 police officers were on patrol at the beachside settlement, with a complement of five police cars and a prison van.

Cameron said the prison van was “pelted” with bottles, and another police vehicle had its back window smashed.

“We basically retreated back to the surf lifesaving club, and we didn’t antagonise anyone. We just left them.

“The biggest problem is there is no street lighting there, so we were driving around in the dark and literally 600 people were parked.

“So I think we had enough presence, but to police 600 youth was pretty difficult.”

Cameron said most of the youths were “really good – but the ones we couldn’t catch were the ones doing the damage”.

He said about three per cent of the youths who had parked at the beach were “reasonably hardcore”, and about 300 bottles were smashed on the street.

Three people were arrested and Cameron “personally” tipped out $1000 worth of alcohol from “chilly bins full”.

He said the council’s bylaw was “essential”.

“It’s really useful for us to say move now and no alcohol.”

Councillor David Holmes said he was disappointed by the behaviour at Riversdale and said many of the youths were “outsiders” who had come in for the weekend.

He asked what the council could do to promote safety at the beach.

A council staffer said they were working with police to educate stakeholders and youths earlier and to “get that communication to schools”.

The temporary prohibition bylaw applies to the possession and consumption of alcohol at Riversdale and Castlepoint beaches on Labour Weekend and New Year’s, and also prevents vehicle access at certain times.

The prohibition does not apply to licensed premises or their outdoor areas, or to people carrying unopened alcohol containers from licensed premises to areas outside the alcohol-free zone or to a private property.

The alcohol prohibition for this year’s Labour Weekend runs from 7pm-7am on Friday, October 21 to Sunday, October 23.

It would also be in place over the New Year’s period from 6pm Friday 30 December 2022 to 6am Sunday 1 January 2023.

The vehicle prohibition preventing cars from entering Castlepoint and Riversdale would run from 4pm Saturday, December 31 to 6am Sunday, January 1.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air…

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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