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Freedom Camping (3)

As predicted in my 26 February Freedom Camping (2) post, Council struggled with the vexed question of whether or not to relax the current prohibition on camping on Council roadside reserves and other public areas. 

As anticipated, it caused a great deal of hand-wringing, but it did reveal considerable confusion amongst councillors who appeared to not quite understand the difference between:

1.  The backpacker people movers (Wicked, Jucy, Crazy etc.), and people camping in cars etc.

2.  The medium sized mostly tourist vehicles, without approved facilities (Some Maui, Kea etc.),

3.  The same goup with approved facilities, and

4.  The motor caravan type vehicles (mostly comprising NZ baby boomers and others 'on the move')

The NZ Motor Caravan Association claim about 23,000 members amongst the latter, and endeavour to accomodate the third category as long as their facilities meet the NZ standards, and thereby carry a NZMCA certificate. This mainly relates to the capacity of the holding tanks.

Already you will understand the disparate interests of these four groupings, and the problem of endeavouring to meet their respective needs.

On the one hand, we have Councillors and CB members who are predominantly in the same white middle-class age group as those in the third and fourth category, and who are hugely sympathetic to their needs and requirements. They appear determined to distinguish the provision of freedom camping facilities for this group, and force the others into private or DOC camping grouds.

On the other hand, there are Councillors who are immensely concerned about the  commercial consequences of excluding, or making unwelcome the first and second groups. These rulemakers are quite ambivalent about imposing new restrictions for this reason.

After all that, what our Council resolved to do yesterday was to offer to lease appropriate reserves around the Peninsula to the Motor Caravan Association for the exclusive (camping) use of their members, and allow the Association to police these locations while our Council, continues to maintain the leased areas, and no doubt, clean up the rubbish. All this subject to CB agreement, and appropriate changes to the Reserve Management Plans (due for revision in 2012).

This proposal was introduced into the meeting agenda item by the Mayor without notice, and was immediately agreed to, with some relief, after some cursory discussion. It may well have been pre-workshopped, as has become standard practice for this Council.

There are of course many who will be immensely concerned at this turn of events, for which there appears no precedence. I for one have a rather frightening vision of a bunch of grey headed old caravan 'police' , chasing non members (i.e 'Wicked' backpackers) off reserves in the middle of the night. I for one don't find that a particularly edifying spectacle, but there may be others who are not as concerned.

I am far more concerned at such use of Council owned reserves for private purposes. Although there is plenty of precedence for the leaseing of council reserves for various reasons, this is somewhat different, and many may have misgivings about such a move. As for instance when they get chased off their own reserves by self-appointed old farts with 'permits'.

The NZMCA will be invited to respond to the invitation, and ratepayers will in turn have the opportunity to respond during public consultation of any changes to the Reserve Management Plans in 2012.

Council voted unanimously yesterday to adopt this proposal, but there is clearly much water to go under the bridge before it is implemented.




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