Council votes to defer controversial items on caravans

THERE was public outcry in the City of Ballarat’s council chambers as councillors voted to defer two contentious items in Wednesday night’s council meeting agenda.

All councillors except Councillor Amy Johnson voted to defer the two items including a proposal to establish free dumping points for caravans, campervans and motorhomes to dispose of their waste and another proposing free camping for recreational vehicles in Pioneer Park.

The deferral was due to the city’s request to seek legal assistance on the two matters. 

Campervan and Motorhome Club co-director Keith Moxham vented his frustration to councillors and said he had travelled from Melbourne to make his submissions for both proposals on behalf of the recreational vehicle lobby group.

“I guess it’s lucky I didn’t fly one of the directors in from Brisbane for this meeting,” he said.

“A bit of notice would have been appreciated. We just want this issue resolved, it is a small issue but it is becoming this enormous thing and I would like to see some rationality come back into it.”

Also in the chamber was Victorian Caravan Parks Association chief executive office Elizabeth White, who had travelled from west Melbourne to make a submission in support of Ballarat’s existing caravan park owners.

Ms White told The Courier she had submitted an urgent letter to the council on Tuesday on the advice of her legal advisor, outlining the concerns of the association.

“I think it is important that the council take the time to go through the issues that we raised in the letter, including the significant costs we believe council will incur if this goes ahead, and the considerable risks these proposal will have that maybe the council has not yet considered,” Ms White said. 

Ms White said she would return to Ballarat to make her public submission at a later date.

Ballarat resident and CAMC member Grant Tillett said he was disappointed by the outcome.

“This has been going on for two years. It is beyond a joke,” Mr Tillett. “It is being made into a fuss when it shouldn’t be.”

Cr Des Hudson said the council was awaiting legal advice on both  items and a deferral was required to ensure the right outcome was met.

“The council needs to be across all legalities involved in this item,” Cr Hudson said. 

Cr Amy Johnson opposed the deferral and encouraged the people who had planned to make public submissions to still do so.

“People have put in a lot of time and effort into their submissions and made the effort to attend the meeting and I think it is ridiculous to defer it now,” Cr Johsnon said.

While Cr Johnson was the only councillor to vote against the deferral, Cr Peter Innes voiced his disappointment.

“What I find intriguing is that council officers have been working really hard and looking into this

for three years but these issues haven’t been raised until today,” he said.

Cr Morris said it was critical the council made the right decision on both items and a deferral was the only way to ensure this occurred.

“Concerns have been raised about both items and we want to get the right results,” Cr Morris said.  “We see these items as two quite separate issues and we are seeking separate legal advice on both these reports and once we have that assistance we will be better placed to make the right decision.”

melissa.cunningham@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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