Regent fears a clash of cultures in Octagon

The Rocky Horror Picture Show patrons and supporters of the men in black could well mingle on Saturday week.

The Dunedin City Council has called an extraordinary meeting next Monday to vote on the closure of the Octagon for the June 25 All Blacks-Wales test match, after the Regent Theatre opposed the road closure.

Theatre management have raised concerns about the safety of its patrons - who are encouraged to dress in theme for the cult musical comedy The Rocky Horror Picture Show film - amid a crowd of rugby supporters.

They say closure is for the benefit of bars as it "normalises the consumption of alcohol''.

It is the first time closing the road has been opposed since 2013, prompting the road "stopping'' subcommittee to meet on Friday to hear submissions. The full council will vote on its recommendations on Monday.

Three other submissions - from the Octagon Village (representing the northeast quadrant bars), Dunedin Hospitality Macs Brew Bar and Di Lusso, and The Craic - were received in favour of the closure.

The police were contacted and supported the closure "in the interests of public safety'', council transport network team leader Michael Tannock said in a report on the matter.

The council's proposal is to close the lower Octagon and part of lower Stuart St from 6am on June 24 until 11am on June 26.

Regent Theatre director Sarah Anderson said, in the theatre's submission, she was concerned "for the safety of our patrons entering and exiting the theatre through this sort of crowd in a public space''.

"The recent changes to health and safety legislation requires us to ensure the safety of our patrons and this use of public space will affect our ability to do so.''

Recent data showing the Octagon and central Dunedin to be among the most dangerous areas in New Zealand "calls into question the effectiveness of both licensees and regulatory body in monitoring public intoxication'', she said.

The theatre's submission questioned the "appropriateness of the Dunedin City Council involving itself in enhancing profits for private businesses'' by closing the area to traffic.

"I am concerned that this encouragement of the normalised consumption of alcohol to support a sports game sends the wrong message to the community,'' Ms Anderson said.

In spite of the concerns, council staff recommended closing the road.

The hearing will be at 11am in the Edinburgh Room at the Dunedin Municipal Chambers.

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