O-Week music ends at midnight

Students will be able to party until midnight at Forsyth Barr Stadium this Orientation Week after the Dunedin City Council agreed to change an earlier decision restricting events to an 11.30pm finish.

This comes after the Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) on Thursday objected to the conditions of a resource consent, which would have meant the two music events it planned to hold at the stadium in O-Week would have had to finish at 11.30pm. The OUSA lobbied strongly for a midnight finish.

The original consent for an 11.30pm finish followed 58 noise complaints as a result of last year's O-Week events at the stadium, which had been required to finish by midnight. It took the council's hearings committee only a day to reinstate the midnight finish time, with chairman Colin Weatherall saying that ''on balance'' it was better for the council to be supportive of O-Week events.

''We understand the stress and strain of shortage of sleep ... but on balance we think this is worth being supportive of.''

It was important that Dunedin welcomed students, who were an important part of the city.

''We believe we are a university town, we are a town that wants to welcome 20% of our residents.''

The committee had taken on board OUSA and the University of Otago's concerns about student safety, with both submitting on Thursday that events at the stadium provided a supervised environment and reduced the amount of antisocial behaviour.

The council was also keen to foster a ''new era'' of co-operation between the university, the OUSA and the council.

Allowing the extra half hour came with the condition that the OUSA increases the level of communication with residents who could be affected by noise from the stadium. At Thursday's meeting several council staff said a lack of communication might have been part of why there were so many complaints last year.

Cr Weatherall said the decision did not mean event-goers had to be out of the stadium by midnight, only that the music had to stop at midnight.

OUSA president Francisco Hernandez welcomed the decision and thanked the committee for giving the OUSA a ''fair hearing''.

''We appreciate the DCC staff and the solid debate they have provided, we understand they are often the meat in the sandwich on these kinds of issues,'' he said.

The OUSA committed to better communication with the affected residents so they knew when events were on and their finishing times.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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