Proactive stance over rally

Oamaru is "being proactive" to cope with the Undie-500 car rally when it passes through the town tomorrow on its way to Dunedin.

Extra police are being called in, rally participants will be warned to abide by the town's rules, businesses are being warned to have extra staff and security, Students Against Drunk Driving are involved and the Waitaki Guardians will monitor and deter bad behaviour.

Waitaki community safety officer Alison Banks said yesterday Oamaru police and the Waitaki District Council were making preparations for the arrival of the students, who will leave Christchurch in their under-$500 cars at 12.30pm and will probably start to arrive in Oamaru late in the afternoon.

"The students will be passing through Waitaki whether we like it or not, so rather than bury our heads in the sand, we're being proactive," she said.

Students will be warned to respect Waitaki and its residents, abide by its liquor ban and litter bylaws.

Local businesses and licensed premises were being told to be prepared by having extra staff, security and litter facilities available.

Liquor outlets will be monitored and have been reminded about the provisions of the Sale of Liquor Act.

Acting Senior Sergeant Tony Woodbridge has requested extra police from outside the district to help ensure there are no breaches of peace, disorderly behaviour or driving offences.

"History shows that by the time these students reach Oamaru they are intoxicated, with the exception of the drivers," Mrs Banks said.

The Waitaki Guardians would also be out in force on Friday evening to monitor the streets of Oamaru, act as a deterrent to bad behaviour, and support students and local residents, if needed.

Students Against Driving Drunk will be supporting a police checkpoint, handing out vehicle litter bags, information on the Oamaru liquor ban bylaw, a map of the liquor ban area, and other supporting information.

They also hoped to have a mini-skip at the check point so that the Undie 500 students can dispose of litter.

Undie 500 events of previous years, including last year's unofficial rally, have resulted in a large number of arrests and alcohol-fuelled disorder in Dunedin.

Organisers of the rally asked Oamaru to host the rally as part of a wider student event last year but were flatly refused by community leaders due to concerns over students' behaviour and the ability of emergency services to deal with large numbers.

Rally organisers were planning to crack down on people who were found breaching the liquor bans or bylaws, or misbehaving in any way.

This included banning them from bars when they returned to Christchurch.


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