Campers filling up town carpark
Commerce Lane carpark is just that — a carpark — but Te Puke Community Board chairman Peter Miller is concerned it is becoming over used by freedom campers.
He raised the issue in his report to last week’s Te Puke Community Board, stating that on one night in early November there were 30 vehicles parked up for the night in the carpark. “Signage in the carpark clearly indicates 18 designated car parks,” he wrote.
“This number of campers in the carpark is certainly a strain on the available facilities and inappropriate use of facilities is constant and has been noted.
“I would say to people, if you have concerns about the number of freedom campers to ring the council number. Even if it’s at night the number will direct you to somebody who will listen to your concerns.”
“They will listen but what’s the action?” asked board member Joan Dugmore.
Peter said a compliance office would come out.
“I have rung and nothing’s happened,” said Joan.
Councillor Grant Dally asked whether people spending the night in the carpark were actually causing a problem.
“I’ve not heard any major complaints with freedom campers — maybe we could increase the number [allowed].”
Peter said he understood the smell was “quite intense”, that there had been inappropriate use of the facilities with people washing clothes and washing themselves and men using the women’s facilities. He pointed out there are often children at the nearby bus stop waiting to be collected or being dropped off. “It’s not a very savory place.” Western Bay of Plenty chief executive Miriam Taris said she understood there were three types of people using the carpark — freedom campers, people working and people who are homeless.
“It’s multi-faceted and I don’t think there is an easy fix,” she said. “They are not all holiday makers and if they are not there, where do they go?
“Some don’t have any option. There has to be some compassion for some of the people and it’s not just a Te Puke issue.”
The council is trialling a “Kiwicamp” in Waihı¯ Beach — a relocatable building with facilities that, with the exception of toilets, are provided on a user pays basis.
“The idea of Kiwicamp is not going to solve our problem because people in Commerce Lane are there because it’s free,” said Peter.
“There are a lot of homeless people in Te Puke and a lot of them use the facilities,” said Grant.
Peter said he felt the large numbers of freedom campers should be a concern of the council.
“Commerce Lane carpark is a very important carpark in this town and it’s being taken over by these three groups of people. I don’t think that’s what the council provided the carpark for.”
He wondered if packhouses could do more to provide accommodation for seasonal workers, but said Trevelyan’s already did offer accommodation.
He also wondered if, at the end of the current lease, there might be a solution in using Te Puke Holiday Park.
Miriam said the lease still had several years to run.
“But there are other people looking at [this issue] so watch this space.”
Grant said he had never felt intimidated in the carpark.
Freedom campers at Commerce Lane carpark in Te Puke.
The sign in the Commerce Lane carpark outlining freedom camping restrictions.