‘Pay your way and stop bludging’
Byron United is backing Byron Council’s fight against backpackers camping in vans at prime Byron Bay beachfront parking spots.
The group’s vice-president, Paul Waters, said Byron United would lobby the State Government to ‘give the council a bit more grunt’ to deal with the problem.
In a story in last week’s Byron News highlighting the issue, the council’s general manager, Graeme Faulkner, said the council was committed to protecting the amenity of permanent residents.
Mr Faulkner said the council was aware of the problems which could occur when visitors stayed overnight in the shire’s car parks and residential streets sleeping in their cars.
He said the council was concerned about the impact unauthorised camping had on sustainable tourism.
Those impacts included rubbish, road safety and noise problems, he said.
But Mr Faulkner said the council was prevented by the Local Government Act from prohibiting campervans being used as overnight accommodation in streets and parks.
He said a council request to the State Government in 2009 for an amendment to the Act to allow the council to prevent camping in the street was rejected.
As a result, the council had created no-parking zones between 1am and 5am in a range of prime locations, he said. Since Christmas Eve and January, council rangers had issued more than 300 camping-related fines.
Mr Waters said that as well as depriving other visitors to the town of prime parking spots ‘day and night’, backpackers used public beach showers to wash themselves and to do their washing up. He said campers left mess behind ‘and heaven knows where they go to the toilet’.
Backpackers were more than welcome at Byron Bay, but they should be paying their way like other visitors, he said.
Mr Waters said if backpackers couldn’t afford to stay in a local camping area at Byron Bay, they should look at going somewhere else.
“Don’t come here and bludge on everyone else,” he said.