Freedom campers risk instant fines

By John Cousins

The city's toothless rules to control motor home parking around Tauranga have been stiffened up thanks to a new Government law introduced to coincide with the Rugby World Cup.

It means that freedom campers who continue to defy an order to move on will be slapped with a $200 instant fine.

Tauranga City Council this week beefed up its powers by agreeing to add instant fines into its public places bylaw.

The council's environment compliance manager, John Payne, said they occasionally had problems with people disobeying the bylaw but it had not been practical to take a prosecution to court. Motor homes are banned from all public places and roads in Tauranga except for Memorial Park, Greerton Park, Fergusson Park, Sulphur Point's Marine Park and the Waikareao Estuary's foreshore reserve opposite the Judea industrial area. A maximum of three motor homes are permitted at each location per night, according to when they arrived. They must be certified self-contained for waste water, with maximum park-ups of two consecutive nights per month at each <inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />location.

Cr Bill Faulkner quipped that he had seen 20 vehicles parked up and they all claimed they were there first.

Cr Catherine Stewart opposed the instant fines, saying they were unnecessary and would make the city seem unfriendly. Tauranga did not have the same issues with freedom campers as Queenstown, Wanaka and the Coromandel. "Why change something when it was not an issue?"

Cr Rick Curach said the worst culprits were young people in vans that had no facilities, whereas most campers respected the city and its environment - as shown by the lack of real problems and complaints. However Cr David Stewart said he had full confidence that staff would use the new enforcement tool with discretion. Currently it was very difficult to do anything about moving on obstinate people without it getting very expensive. "I am confident that staff will use it judiciously."

Cr Faulkner, who saw a motor home parked up at Marine Park for at least three weeks, said it was a sensible enforcement tool and not for minor breaches.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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