Illegal camp patrols cost $10k

By LAWRENCE GULLERY

Illegal campers in their tents, vans and cars have caused a stir among people living next to some of Hastings reserves set aside for overnight stays.
 A security firm is to be hired at $10,000 a year to monitor the most popular public sites set aside for overnight campers in the summer months.
The issue came before the Hastings District Council on Wednesday which decided to hire the security firm to monitor Clifton Rd Reserve, Clive Ski Reserve, Haumoana Domain and Waimarama Domain every day from December to May.
The council has not budgeted for the service so it will go to the upcoming annual plan for consideration.
The council's urban design and parks planner Rachel Stuart said in her report, 10 sites around the district had been set aside for motorhomes or self-contained campers to stay for a maximum of two nights.
But over Christmas, there were two reserves being used by vehicles "without self-contained facilities" and a private security firm was hired to move people along.
Clifton Rd Reserve appeared to be the most active, with 160 out of the 575 vehicles staying there during January considered to be "non-compliant".
Some reserves had become abused and had the potential to become "unofficial camping grounds", especially during the harvest season when backpackers came looking for somewhere free to pitch their tents or sleep in their vans while working in orchards and vineyards.
Ms Stuart said while in other areas illegal campers had caused major problems, that was not the case in Hastings.
"On the whole, the illegal campers using these sites are responsible and adhere to pack-in, pack-out philosophy of freedom camping," she said.
Ms Stuart said the main issue was complaints from adjoining neighbours about the illegal campers.
Councillor Rod Heaps, who lives and works out by the Clifton Rd Reserve, said he thought the reserves should be for self-contained vehicles only.
"People have to understand they are being monitored.

That does work and that's how I would like to see it work," he said.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he was worried about where the council would find the money to pay for the security patrol.
"My issue is: is there another way of funding the $10,000? Could the Waimarama Life Saving Club be the patrollers and we pay them something and they just do it. They are there every day," he said.
Mr Yule suggested charging "freedom campers" $5 which would contribute towards the cost of monitoring.
"Otherwise what we are asking here is for the ratepayers to pick up $8000 or $10,000," he said.
 

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