Businesses prepare for concerts influx
By MATT RILKOFF
TARANAKI, prepare for D-Day.
Accommodation providers, cafe and bar owners, transport operators and retailers got their first glimpse yesterday of how the New Plymouth District Council is preparing for the expected arrival of 20,000 visiting Fleetwood Mac fans later this month.
Addressing 50 people at the civic centre in New Plymouth, Venture Taranaki head Stuart Trundle worked hard to make sure they were aware of the true scale of event. ‘‘On December 18, 19, 20 and 21 Taranaki is going to have it’s own D-Day,’’ he said, comparing the coming dates to the massive invasion of Nazioccupied France by the Allies during World War II.
The difference of this event to the ones previously held at the Bowl of Brooklands was the balance of outsiders to locals, he said.
‘‘Two-thirds are usually from Taranaki and one third are honoured guests. This time most of the people at the concert will be away fans . . . Everyone coming up will be putting extra pressure on everything from petrol stations to retail outlets. We say Taranaki is like no other and have to make sure we prove that.
‘‘What we don’t want is people leaving here with [bad] memories,’’ he said. In order for that to happen the council asked local hospitality big gun Craig Macfarlane to speak about what he had been doing to prepare for the unprecedented influx.
‘‘I’m not doing a lot actually,’’ he joked before getting serious.
‘‘We have to be careful not to underestimate this event because the concerts we have had till now at the bowl, the numbers have been inflated. They said there was 15,000 at Elton John but I don’t for a minute believe there was that many. Now we have 20,000 coming in from outside the province. There is no doubt we will be busy. We will all be busy, from the Daily News Cafe to the cafes in Oakura,’’ he said.
Christchurch pubs and clubs had not prepared properly for the 30,000 people hitting the streets after the Pearl Jam concert last week and punters had been left hungry, thirsty and frustrated, he said.
To avoid this he said increasing staffing levels for the weekend was essential and getting supplies in early would help things flow smoothly.
Council enforcement manager Lloyd Crow said licensed premises especially should make sure they are ready for the Sunday concert and apply for a special liquor licence if need be. ‘‘Five have done so and if you need to do it you should do it now, or tomorrow, as soon as possible,’’ he said.
Licensed premises will be closed at the usual 3am on Sunday and can remain open, provided they have the special licence, until 2am on Monday.
The council will also be talking with police about the possibility of relaxing the rule to have all outdoor areas brought inside by 1am on both concert nights.
* New Plymouth's CBD liquor ban is to be extended over the weekend of the Fleetwood Mac concerts.
* In addition to the normal operating days (Thursday to Sunday), the ban will be in place from 7pm on Sunday, December 20 to 7am the following day.
* During these hours it will be an offence to be in possession of liquor for consumption within the ban area.
* More signs about the liquor ban extension will be posted in the CBD.