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Freedom Camping, again!

Council met today with just one item on the agenda – the long awaited extension of Schedule B Freedom Camping sites for fully serviced vehicles.

I would have to say that this has been one of the most successful policies introduced by the current Council. Is has been very carefully constructed within the ridiculous provisions of the Freedom Camping Act in such a way to remove any possible challenge by the Motor Caravan Association whose attention, and resources have been diverted to dealing with the Westland Council who adopted a far more challenging by-law. If this challenge is successfull it may give the MCA grounds for claims of precedence when challenging the by-laws of councils like ours, but I doubt it - I think they have again have been given questionable advice by their legal advisors.

MCA have been told in no uncertain manner that should that route be followed, then it is back to the good old days on this Peninsula with a total camping ban. If they have any brains, they will consider the Schedule B extensions as meeting their requirements to an acceptable degree. It is just that their idea of Freedom Camping means parking-up anywhere and everywhere, whenever.

It was interesting to note the Mayor’s belligerence on the issue this afternoon – he will not accept any level of enforcement short of total. If it means hiring temp. warranted personnel over busy periods – so be it. I think that some of the more freedom loving members of the Association may be going to start to feel the pressure – the Thames Coast is clearly on the top of the list – illegitimate occupation of road reserves may become a thing of the past, but clearly there is tension with DoC over enforcement of their regulations on DoC reserves. But that is their problem, and there is no point getting hung up about it.

MCA members will have to realise sooner or later that they are limited to the now expanded Schedule B sites, and if they wish to ignore the by-law, they will have to suffer the consequences.

Hammond was to be on Campbell Live last eveing to deal to a complaint by a unserviced vehicle owner who was pinged on the Danby Park site a little while ago. Leach counted 4 unserviced vehicles on the site this morning – hence the bollocking on enforcement. 

Finally, an interesting statistic - Cr Bartley was finally allowed to speak by the Mayor and we were treated to another bombastic recounting of Jan's 'enforcement' activities - he patrols Beach Road in Whangamata three times a day and has spoken to 270 campers - where would we be without him!




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Reader Comments (2)

Hi Bill,

Some interesting comments. I think readers will be interested in your information source to back up these claims;

Exactly which provisions of the FCA are ridiculous? After all, it was LG who asked for this enforcement regime and supported the FCA when enacted. What's changed? As you well know, legislation has grey areas of interpretation, however the principles of the FCA are not ambiguous. There's a wealth of guidance material available to local authorities, including that commissioned by LGNZ, detailing the requirements and general approach. It is fair to say, based on the available material and advice (from both sides), that the performance of several local authorities leaves much to be desired. Thankfully there are authorities out there who have made every effort to adopt robust and legally sound bylaws, whilst still protecting their communities.

Could you be more specific as to the questionable legal advice (in your view) the NZMCA has received on Westland DC's bylaw? I presume you have read the statement of claim and supporting evidence. You must know something that the lawyers and other analysts who have reviewed WDC's bylaw don't...

Who told the NZMCA that if they challenged TCDC's bylaw then it is back to the "good old days" with a total blanket ban? And how/when was this communicated to them?

Where has the NZMCA stated or implied that its idea of freedom camping means parking-up anywhere and everywhere, whenever? Furthermore, if visitors (including non-NZMCA members) were to do this and cause no harm to the environment or limit the enjoyment of an area for other visitors, what's the problem?

James (NZMCA)

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Imlach

I have great admiration for your vigilence on behalf of your members James, and your consistent defence of their interests.
I am simply a commentator - I report on what I observe at meetings, and I have a particular view of the prerogatives of access demanded by your members. In this case everything I reported was as I observed and heard at the Council meeting in question. If you have any argument with the content, I suggest that you take it up with TCDC, and Mr Ben Day in particular. As for your case against Westland - yes, I have read the reports of your case, though not the Statement of Claim. I believe I have sufficient knowledge of the basis of your case to make the comment that I did. Finally, I repeat that I believe that TCDC has done an excellent job in putting together a set of by-laws that is appropriate, and that provide all campers with approved facilities equal access to a fair number of sites that do not impinge on the rights of our ratepayers. I acknowledge that it is unlikely that you and I will ever a 'meeting of the minds' on this score. I guess that if you consider that the by-laws in question are contrary to the Act, that your best option is to institute similar action against TCDC to that which you have instituted against Westland, though I would suggest that TCDC's by-law is far 'safer', and less vulnerable, but who knows until tested?

March 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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