More teeth needed to control freedom campers

Council considers change to bylaw.

Council considers change to bylaw.

A BYLAW change will enable Gisborne District Council to take stronger action against summer campers whose behaviour has led to complaints, particularly at the Marina Carpark.

The environmental planning and regulations committee supported a suggestion from enforcement manager Jim Single to have the present summer camping areas changed to freedom camping. The public was confused about the difference between the two.

Summer camping is restricted to the period of daylight saving at nominated locations.

Under the Freedom Camping Bylaw, freedom camping is permitted at any local authority area within the district, unless that is restricted or prohibited by way of a bylaw.

Mr Single told the committee the new freedom camping bylaw created confusion and generated complaints from the public using the freedom camping grounds.

The new bylaw stated that campers at the Marina, Kaiti Beach and Motu rest area only needed to be in a motor vehicle. The previous bylaw required campers at these locations to be in a self-contained motor vehicle.

Public confusion

As the bylaw change only related to some of the freedom camping areas, it caused a large amount of confusion with the public and tourists who used these locations.

The Marina carpark generated a number of complaints from residents who did not like certain activities occurring there.

The feedback from the public was that they did not like the bylaw changes that allowed people to camp in a motor vehicle in such a central location without the vehicle being self- contained.

People now arrived in cars and vans with mattresses in the back or erected tents and were seen to use the facilities to wash dishes, clean their teeth and, on occasions, wash themselves using the small basin inside the toilet block.

Clothes were regularly seen hanging on rope strung between trees and on several occasions people had been observed washing with soap and shampoo in the river.

Summer camping was not an enforceable activity. Mr Single suggested that the summer camping areas be reclassified to freedom camping during the daylight saving period.

Monitoring and enforcement

This would allow the council to effectively monitor and enforce all freedom camping throughout the district.
Mr Single said it came down to what the council would accept was visually appealing in a reserve in the middle of the city.

“I personally think it is a bit of ‘we have tried that and it didn’t work’ and we need to go back to a self-contained vehicle.”

There was quite a significant a problem with summer camping, as opposed to freedom camping. The council could not issue infringements or do anything with summer camping areas.

The reason was there was no legislation. Even if there was a bylaw, it would only give them the power to prosecute — which would cost $5000 so they would “not even go there.”

A time limit could be put on freedom campers.

“In no way am I suggesting that we prevent local people from going camping,” he said.

“But we have no effective way of enforcing breaches.”

If the bylaw was changed it had to be free, so the charges would be dropped.

Rehette Stoltz said what was suggested was great. It meant that in summer there would be enforcement and everybody would sing from the same song sheet. There would be a consistent regime.

But summer was only six months away and she asked if the council would be able to “wing this” in time. Mr Single said it would be possible.

A BYLAW change will enable Gisborne District Council to take stronger action against summer campers whose behaviour has led to complaints, particularly at the Marina Carpark.

The environmental planning and regulations committee supported a suggestion from enforcement manager Jim Single to have the present summer camping areas changed to freedom camping. The public was confused about the difference between the two.

Summer camping is restricted to the period of daylight saving at nominated locations.

Under the Freedom Camping Bylaw, freedom camping is permitted at any local authority area within the district, unless that is restricted or prohibited by way of a bylaw.

Mr Single told the committee the new freedom camping bylaw created confusion and generated complaints from the public using the freedom camping grounds.

The new bylaw stated that campers at the Marina, Kaiti Beach and Motu rest area only needed to be in a motor vehicle. The previous bylaw required campers at these locations to be in a self-contained motor vehicle.

Public confusion

As the bylaw change only related to some of the freedom camping areas, it caused a large amount of confusion with the public and tourists who used these locations.

The Marina carpark generated a number of complaints from residents who did not like certain activities occurring there.

The feedback from the public was that they did not like the bylaw changes that allowed people to camp in a motor vehicle in such a central location without the vehicle being self- contained.

People now arrived in cars and vans with mattresses in the back or erected tents and were seen to use the facilities to wash dishes, clean their teeth and, on occasions, wash themselves using the small basin inside the toilet block.

Clothes were regularly seen hanging on rope strung between trees and on several occasions people had been observed washing with soap and shampoo in the river.

Summer camping was not an enforceable activity. Mr Single suggested that the summer camping areas be reclassified to freedom camping during the daylight saving period.

Monitoring and enforcement

This would allow the council to effectively monitor and enforce all freedom camping throughout the district.
Mr Single said it came down to what the council would accept was visually appealing in a reserve in the middle of the city.

“I personally think it is a bit of ‘we have tried that and it didn’t work’ and we need to go back to a self-contained vehicle.”

There was quite a significant a problem with summer camping, as opposed to freedom camping. The council could not issue infringements or do anything with summer camping areas.

The reason was there was no legislation. Even if there was a bylaw, it would only give them the power to prosecute — which would cost $5000 so they would “not even go there.”

A time limit could be put on freedom campers.

“In no way am I suggesting that we prevent local people from going camping,” he said.

“But we have no effective way of enforcing breaches.”

If the bylaw was changed it had to be free, so the charges would be dropped.

Rehette Stoltz said what was suggested was great. It meant that in summer there would be enforcement and everybody would sing from the same song sheet. There would be a consistent regime.

But summer was only six months away and she asked if the council would be able to “wing this” in time. Mr Single said it would be possible.

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