Council asks for more legal clout

Byron Council will again push the State Government to give it some legal clout to deal with the ongoing problem of ‘vanpackers’ camping at prime Byron Bay beachfront parking spots and in residential areas.

Mayor Cr Jan Barham said she hoped to move a notice of motion at the next council meeting on February 10 again calling on the government to amend the Local Government Act to give councils the power to stop people camping in vans in streets and parks.

Cr Barham said illegal van camping was a statewide issue and required a statewide local government response.

Areas in Sydney’s eastern suburbs are being dogged by the same problem including Clovelly, Coogee and Bondi.

A bid by Byron Council in 2009 to have the Local Government Act amended was rejected by the State Government.

Consequently, the council created no-parking zones between 1am and 5am in a range of prime locations to deal with the van camping issue.

Between Christmas Eve and January 4, council rangers issued more than 300 camping-related fines.

As well as asking for action from the government, Cr Barham, who said the council received regular complaints from residents about illegal camping, will ask the Opposition if it was willing to give local government the tools to address the issue.

“These people are not backpackers as such,” said Cr Barham.

“They are a different type of traveller who are going to an area and not utilising accommodation.

“But they are utilising our facilities, with the benefits (they bring to the town) not clear and the impacts on residents evident.

“They are creating a disturbance and a loss of amenity.

“There needs to be greater powers for councils to regulate them.”

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