Otago Daily Times

Council wants public feedback on camping


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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