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Freedom Camping (2)

Council deferred action on 8 December on altering its current policy that prevents camping in public places - a policy that is widely ignored, and in some areas, despised.This was to enable further consultation with (current) Community Boards, and the development of a new policy acceptable, and capabale of being implemented.

The proposed policy (developed over the past 12 months) recognises the desire expressed by the three (previous) Eastern Board areas to create public areas appropriate for "self contained" vans, under certain conditions, while continuing the total ban on the Western side in accordance with the expressed wishes of the two (previous) Community Boards. 

It is clear that:

1.  There will be no central Government action on creating a national policy.

2.  No change in any case will be possible until the planned review of reserve management plans in 2012.

3.  Current Councillors have indicated (presumably within 'closed door' workshops) that they may not support the opening of public places for campervans, even on the East coast.

4.  A survey shows that 78% of campervans are not  self contained.

5.  Should Council alter the proposed policy in order to confirm the current exclusion of campervans from over-nighting in public places, it will need to consider exactly how it intends to better enforce its current policy.

6.   Such an exclusion policy will incur the undying wrath of the Motor Caravan Association of New Zealand - a pressure group that claims to have substantial influence within Government.

The latter have threatened action against any council that fails to recognise the needs of its members to camp on (to be) designated public sites throughout the country, falling back always on the claim that their members are responsible, and all carry appropriate holding tanks. Unfortunately, these tanks are often emptied in inappropriate place, and in any case many rate-payers resent them parking up on favourite spots, particularly when they block views. 

There is often an "anti-foreigner" edge to the claims made by this Association, whose members apparently despise the young and carefree occupants of Crazy, Wicked and Jucy people movers. But the companies that purvey these means of conveyance and 'freedom' deny that their little darlings are in any way responsible for the despoliation of the countryside. They blame local hoons and "travellers".

It will be interesting to see on Wednesday whether there has been a change of heart amongst our new Councillors - they have obviously let staff know in closed door workshops of their desire to retain the current ban, but it is sometimes hard to pick the group dynamic amongst this bunch when it comes under pressure. The pressure is on from both sides on this one, and it will test the mettle of our tyros.




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