The heat has been turned up in the city's council election race with a Newcastle Independents councillor accusing Labor of calling the police to the alliance's campaign launch.
But Labor, which currently holds the numbers on council, has hit back - labelling the accusation "petty" and criticising the launch.
Newcastle City Police officers briefly attended the Lambton Park event on Sunday after receiving a call about a protest.
They observed no issues and left shortly after, a NSW Police spokesperson said.
Newcastle Independents councillor Kath Elliott said she was told by officers on the day the call was about an "anti-mask rally".
She accused her political rivals of making the call and wasting police resources. "There is an assumption that this was a ploy by Labor, but that hasn't been proven," she said.
"If it is, then it is a dreadful waste of police resources at a time when they could be better utilised assisting the community. I would call on Labor to declare that they didn't do it."
In a joint statement, the Labor councillors rejected the "political accusations" and questioned if the event passed "the pub test" given current the COVID situation.
"[Crs] Church and Robinson have shown their disregard for process by getting 40-plus of their friends and family together during a pandemic," it said.
"Labor councillors would have loved to gather our supporters, friends and families for a campaign launch, but are aware that the current health pandemic means that it wouldn't pass the pub test.
"Any person seeking public office needs to act with the health and safety of our community in mind, and ensure that they have appropriate approvals for the use of public land."
READ MORE: Who is running for council in 2021?
The Newcastle Herald understands the park was not booked through council as it might be for similar community events.
The launch, attended by about 50 people, had been promoted in a post on the Independents' Facebook page.
Both it and a media alert said it was a COVID-safe event.
"QR code check in will be available. We will be observing the 1 person per 4 square metre rule. As the event is outdoors, masks are not mandatory but strongly encouraged," it said.
Cr Elliott said the Newcastle Independents did not book the park's rotunda as they didn't use it. It was a reference point for the "gathering of family and friends", she said.
The NSW Police spokesperson said there were "no breaches detected" of the Public Health Orders in place at the time.
The council election is on September 4.
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