Campers fill­ing up town carpark

Te Puke Times - - News - By STU­ART WHI­TAKER [email protected]­

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.

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