Caravan group voices concerns after council meeting

A LEADING recreational vehicle lobby group has voiced frustration at delays in moving forward with council proposals to establish freedom camping and free waste-disposal dumping points for caravans, campervans and motorhomes.

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Earlier this month, Ballarat councillors voted to defer the two contentious items due to the city’s request to seek legal assistance on the matters.

The legal assistance was sparked by an urgent letter submitted to the council by Victorian Caravan Parks Association chief executive officer Elizabeth White on the advice of her legal advisor, outlining the concerns of the association.

But Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia board director Keith Moxham criticised the late submission of the Victorian Caravan Parks Association and said it had undermined a submission by CMCA, which had taken more than two years to create.

“CMCA and the City of Ballarat have been working together to make Ballarat recreational-vehicle friendly and boost the city’s tourism industry for a number of years,” Mr Moxham said. 

“The Victorian Caravan Parks Association was free to raise any legal issues regarding Pioneer Park at any time during that process, but decided to do this only at the last minute.”

Mr Moxham said in the past 10 years there had been a significant increase in the number of travellers in self-sufficient RVs with bathroom and toilet facilities preferring to access community-operated low-cost camps. 

The CMCA is advocating for freedom camping at Pioneer Park along with a 12-month trial where existing caravan park operators allow visitors to dispose of their waste at their parks.

Mr Moxham said it would deliver economic and social benefits to the city.

But Ms White denied the letter was a blocking tactic and that it had not been the intention of the association to cause any delay.

She said the association had been in discussions with the council on the dump point facilities for more than 18 months but had been unaware of the freedom camping proposal until the end of May.

“At that time, the council was developing a report on freedom camping, which was not complete until July,” Ms White said.

“I awaited the completion of the council report to see what it entailed. Following that, I went to get further legal advice on the matter and the approval of caravan park owners before putting forward my submission.” 

City of Ballarat’s acting chief executive officer Natalie Reiter said reports on freedom camping and dump point voucher trials were prepared for council consideration at last week’s meeting but both reports had been adjourned.

Ms Reiter said further advice was being sought on both items and they would be considered

again by the council in the coming weeks.

melissa.cunningham@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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