Complaints - Please scroll to the bottom of the page
« New Media (5) | Main | Housing for the Elderly »

Ron Julian's Pan Problem

Readers will be aware of several posts that I have made deploring the inaction of central government in regard to regulating so-called freedom camping, particularly with the approach of the RWC. I understand that a paper will come to Council's next meeting that incorporates the provisions announced by Environment Minister Nick Smith last week, and proposals for changes that may be invoked here. 

An unrelated camping issue was raised in Public Forum today in one of the best presentations in a good while by Ron Julian, the intrepid proprietor of the Te Puru and Whitiange campgrounds. Ron has been carrying on a battle behind the scenes for quite some time in regard to having individual titles issued for 'owners' of units in the Te Puru camp. This has been thwarted by staff, and by the last Council, even though the issue was somewhat less than 'black and white'.

Regardless, you will see from the paper that Ron presented today that Council, having established the extent to which these 'units' are been occupied as individual living units with separate toilets, is now dudding Ron for the full charge for each unit in accordance with a Judicial decision made by the last Council. The situation at Whitianga is a little different inasmuch as it is the 16% usage of the 24 toilets, other than at Christmas that causes Ron to object to the normal motel half-charge.

Here is Ron's letter:

 My name is Ron Julian, some of you will know me.  I am an owner of Te Puru Holiday Park and Mercury Bay Holiday Park in Whitianga.

 My question is about Rates. Is it Council’s intention to Rate private sector Holiday Parks to the point of insolvency by charging Rates per campsite?

 Our two parks have had rate increases of 1,500% at Te Puru (going from $3,000 to $48,000) and 100%increase at Mercury Bay  (going from $16,000 to $26,000, ($10,000 of this Rate bill is for 25 toilets  which are only used at 16% capacity year round apart from our 3 week Christmas trade which climbs to 66% occupancy). 

We are aware of other privately owned campgrounds being in the same boat, however, Council managed camping grounds and DOC property’s appear to be exempt?

 According to your Chief Executive this is quite normal and appropriate?

I believe in paying our share, so long as it is fair, reasonable, and consistent.

Ron then moves into the vexed issue of freedom camping:

A point of fact; holiday parks provide for 20% of New Zealand’s commercial holiday accommodation, the percentage is slightly higher in the Coromandel.  Visitors are 55% domestic and 45% international.  Visitor spend when staying in holiday parks is only 18% on accommodation and the rest, 82%, spent within the community.  This is the communities tourism revenue backbone.

Current rating increases contemplated by this Council on holiday parks will add between 20-40% direct cost to our visitor accommodation?  Is this sound policy?  The market will tell us what is acceptable and with these continual increases, it will be inevitable to see more campgrounds close because it is just not economically viable to remain operating.  In fact with some of the positive environmental practices Parks are putting in place Council should be offering rate rebates, recognising best practice achievements. (i.e. Environmental Awards ;)

Council is now also publicly announcing contemplating areas for ‘free camping’ on Council managed properties such as reserves?  Does this make sense? We need to keep our visitors safe, give them a great experience and offer them well priced (but not FREE) options.

Rating policy information and implementation strategy in respect of holiday accommodation in the Peninsula has been requested from Council staff, but unfortunately has not been forth-coming.
How does private sector tourism plan ahead and invest with confidence with a Council that keeps moving the goal posts?

Both the Mayor and the deputy Mayor are aware of our plight, but both simply say they are unable to help.  Well, that is why a new Council was voted in to replace the last!

Through the recent election campaign we consistently heard rhetoric of a common-sense council and the value of tourism growth.  I recall Mayor Leach’s election campaign well!  One of his favoured sayings was that the ‘tail has wagged the dog for too long and that it was time for that to change’.  I suggest the wagging continues.

I am not sure what Ron is referring to when he talks about "current rating increases  contemplated by this Council for holiday parks", but whatever you may think of Ron's initiative in attempting to alter unit title rules to his advantage at Te Puru, his barbs directed at the Mayor this morning certainly brought about the usual reaction to any criticism aimed in that direction.

In between the vitriol, came the statement that "all policy is up for review - after the LTCCP has been put in place". I don't know whether this should cause concern. One does get the impression that there is to be a substantial upheaval of everything to do with resource consents, for example.

I will deal with the Freedom Camping paper when it emeges, together with some commments on the proposal (see post Freedom Camping (3) ) to lease council reserves to the Motor Caravan Association to occupy, and police. I understand that they are yet to respond to this invitation.




PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (1)

Like many presentations to Council, both sides of an issue are not necessarily obvious. When is a campground just that? Many campgrounds on the Peninsula started off for the travelling public but certain folk saw an opportunity to have a seaside bach without the heavy investment. First it was 'leave the caravan' at the campground all year round so 'our place' is assured. Cost was less than rates. The central facilities of water, septic tank, and kitchen power were for all. But then the council proviso of an awning got abused and concrete floors, aluminium joinery, and tin roofs attached to the caravan made an appearance. Now these constructions became holiday homes able to be rented out and used all year. Then power was installed and, perhaps sneakily, water as well. Next was the installation of a substantial building for permanent living. What has happened to the 'campground'? It's become a high density residential area in an urban or rural area with the difficulty of sufficient toilets and water, The campground proprietor who was getting a steady off-peak income has only to subdivide and sell 'living area leases' to capitalise on his investment. Perhaps this is a reason for lack of real campgrounds. Money. The Council is then called on to altruistically provide more campgrounds. If a campground is going to provide high density housing with its attendant population then it should share the rating burden like the rest of us.

June 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>