Otago Daily Times

Coun­cil wants pub­lic feed­back on camp­ing

- LAURA MILLS Greymouth · Paul Morris

LOVE it, or hate it? The Greymouth pub­lic can now have a say on whether free­dom camp­ing in the district should be cur­tailed.

The Grey District Coun­cil voted on Mon­day to put pro­pos­als out to the pub­lic for feed­back.

At this stage, it sug­gests keep­ing open the con­tro­ver­sial free camp­site at Cob­den, but with tougher rules aimed at end­ing the rush of cheap con­verted ‘‘sleep­er­vans’’.

Self­con­tain­ment would be en­forced, with no tol­er­ance of buck­ets stashed un­der the bed.

It also sug­gests re­duc­ing the length of time peo­ple can stay at free sites, from three nights to two.

The sites for free­dom camp­ing would be Cob­den Beach, Cob­den Bridge, Blake­town Tip­head, Iveagh Bay at Lake Brun­ner, and McMil­lan Rd at Pu­nakaiki.

How­ever, coun­cil­lors’ views on the matter were not re­vealed yes­ter­day af­ter they were warned ex­press­ing an opinion could prej­u­dice the re­view.

Mayor Ta­nia Gib­son said af­ter many meet­ings with busi­ness own­ers, and me­dia at­ten­tion, coun­cil­lors had asked for a re­view.

One chal­lenge of clos­ing all sites was that free­dom campers would spread out across the district.

‘‘We’ll be damned if we do and damned if we don’t,’’ she said.

Cr Al­lan Gib­son, speak­ing be­fore chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Mor­ris cau­tioned coun­cil­lors over ex­press­ing their opin­ions, said it was up to the com­mu­nity to de­cide.

Free­dom camp­ing was a failed ex­per­i­ment by the gov­ern­ment, Cr Gib­son said. It was anti­busi­ness and would add costs, what­ever coun­cil­lors de­cided.

He asked what thought had been given to en­force­ment of­fi­cers op­er­at­ing alone, in what could be hos­tile cir­cum­stances as the pro­pos­als would take en­force­ment to a new scale.

Mr Mor­ris said they were look­ing for an early De­cem­ber start, to cover the Christ­mas pe­riod.

He cau­tioned coun­cil­lors to go into the re­view with an open mind.

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