Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber is one of more than 30 mayors taking the issue surrounding freedom campers to Parliament today.
A total of 33 mayors from around New Zealand meet Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis today to express their concern at the demand freedom campers placed on local councils.
Webber said local ratepayers were too often left to foot the bill for all freedom camping related costs which was unfair and the Government should help. His argument was bolstered by Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless who, despite not being one of the original mayors invited to the meeting, wrote a letter expressing his concern to Davis.
Central Government gets the revenue from all this and we are going there to bid for our little area to make sure we get a fair lick of the cherry alongside the rest of the others.
In Wellington this morning, Webber said the Western Bay offered some of the most desirable destinations for visitors.
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"When visitors come to New Zealand, they don't come here to walk down Queen St. They come for the beaches and the forests," Webber said.
"Waihi Beach normally has a residential population of 4000 people but because it's such a great holiday destination it swells to 25,000 to 30,000. We have to provide all of the water, roads, footpaths, etc., for that visiting population. So the ratepayers are funding these sorts of things."
Webber said freedom campers were a big reason the district's rates were so high and he hoped to change this. Freedom campers brought plenty of money into the area but plenty was also spent on managing them, he said.
"Look at what we've got in the Western Bay - Athenree, Maketu, Katikati, Tanner's Point ... all these little villages where freedom camping is so popular. We really have to state our case because of the requirements freedom camping puts on us for all sorts of things, such as disposing of their waste. Central government gets the revenue from all this, and we are going there to bid for our little area to make sure we get a fair lick of the cherry alongside the rest of the others."
Brownless said the whole issue of freedom camping has resulted in problems for councils as a result of an act of Parliament.
"Initially Tauranga tried a softer, more educational approach to the problems that arose. It didn't work, and last year we began enforcing what rules the act allowed us to. While not perfect, the situation for us here is a lot better now."