Drive In a night for the com­mu­nity

Coastal News - - Front Page -

The de­bate over gain­ing a 15-year re­source con­sent for Wil­liamson Park to host paid events and for al­co­hol to be al­lowed con­tin­ues, with in­put from Brits at the Beach or­gan­iser Colin Mccabe

With re­gard to Noddy’s ar­ti­cle last week.

Yes, Brits is a com­mer­cial en­tity and will be us­ing Wil­liamson Park this year to hold a fam­ily “Drive In Movie”.

Our pref­er­ence had been for an­other park, but a few years ago we spent a con­sid­er­able amount of money on a pur­pose­built screen for the Wil­liamson Park stage so feel obliged to use it.

The night, which is open to any­one and ev­ery­one, is a cheap fam­ily night out charged at $10 per car.

As Noddy will no doubt agree, there’s no huge profit in run­ning Drive Ins and at $10 per car load it’ll barely cover the cost of equip­ment, let alone the stress of run­ning it!

Al­co­hol con­sump­tion con­tin­ues to be a ma­jor is­sue for our town, in par­tic­u­lar dur­ing sum­mer.

Brits does not sell al­co­hol, food, or any­thing at the Drive In.

The Brits man­age­ment have also made the con­scious de­ci­sion to only work along­side ex­ist­ing li­censed venues for any event that may in­volve al­co­hol.

This year we will be sup­ply­ing a crowd to the Whanga­mata RSA and the Whanga­mata Ocean Sports Club. So I think that makes it a bit rich to put the Brits Drive In in the same class as a con­cert at­tract­ing thou­sands of mostly young folk at the peak sum­mer.

Black­ies, of course, is most wel­come to open and sell a few

teas, cof­fees and lol­lies.

By the way, speak­ing of Black­ies, their lease with coun­cil gives them quite a big say on what goes on within 150 yards of their busi­ness premise (ba­si­cally all of the park). There’s a rea­son for that too, which is tied in to the orig­i­nal Wil­liamson land gift!

Peter Wil­liamson, who also do­nated the surf club, fire sta­tion, and school land, was ob­vi­ously both vi­sion­ary and as­tute enough to see some of the pos­si­ble pit­falls of com­mer­cial­is­ing his gen­er­ous gift.

I hope you don’t think I’m anti-progress or a party pooper. I’m any­thing but, and I’ve per­son­ally as­sisted dozens of events to get off the ground over the past 20 plus years that have been of great value for our com­mu­nity.

For me, Wil­liamson Park is about hon­our­ing an agree­ment. It feels like an “hon­our the treaty” kind of mo­ment. Re­mem­ber we, as in the Thames County Coun­cil on our be­half, agreed to re­ceive a gift of land, worth a small for­tune, that was gifted with a few con­di­tions which the coun­cil fully ac­cepted. That’s it ba­si­cally. We agreed, so we sim­ply hon­our what our fore­bears agreed in good faith and move on.

But a few peo­ple, and it is just a few in coun­cil and pri­vate en­ter­prise, want to change decades of the sta­tus quo. Why? Money mostly.

Some of you may know that I have a day job and in that job I’ve been privy to most of the Wil­liamson Park pa­per­work, dat­ing way back to the orig­i­nal 1929 Thames County Coun­cil ac­cep­tance let­ter, through the changes about adding a cafe, the de­bate about the cafe be­ing al­lowed to sell liquor right through to the coun­cil’s los­ing court case around the turn of the

cen­tury. I do fear if we end up back in court, we’ll get ex­actly the same re­sult! We’ll lose and pay thou­sands and thou­sands in court costs.

How much this time? Who has au­tho­rised this (pos­si­bly) costly ac­tion, or does the coun­cil even know?

It is re­ally fab­u­lous to see the or­gan­is­ers an­nounc­ing Sol3mio for this year’s event. That’s a great show so good luck to them, but Whanga­mata does have other parks that could be used and all with­out the Wil­liamson Park land gift is­sues.

Is­land View is nearly as big, Ti­toki Park and the Whanga­mata Sports Grounds are more cen­tral to the town.

It does re­mind me though of an event called the Sum­mer Fes­ti­val, which for 25 years ran suc­cess­ful non-com­mer­cial events at Wil­liamson Park, like the Opera In The Park, and were even the ones who ‘broke’ Sol3mio to a much wider New Zealand au­di­ence.

Let’s also give a huge thankyou to that core group of peo­ple (mostly ladies) who gave up so much of their lives to bring our com­mu­nity great, safe and free en­ter­tain­ment ev­ery sum­mer.

I hope we don’t live to rue the de­ci­sion to ba­si­cally kick this fan­tas­tic bunch of vol­un­teers to touch.

PS: The screen we had made was for the com­mu­nity, so if any­one wants to use it to run a fundraiser drive in movie, just drop me a line!

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