Sunday, 28 February 2021

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Fines down as ambassadors help freedom campers to play by the rules

Efforts to better educate freedom campers on the Coromandel has resulted in less litter, happier visitors and fewer fines being issued over the summer season, according to Thames-Coromandel District Council.

TCDC said the results are down to the work of a team of Freedom Camping Ambassadors who conducted 1,165 patrols, funded out of a $656,566 Responsible Camping Fund allocation from central government. “We hired six people to work part-time over 10 weeks to promote responsible freedom camping around our district, and the evidence shows our programme has been a success,” council said in a news release.

The ambassadors’ last day was Friday, 12 February. During their patrols they spoke with 3,190 people, 2,000 rubbish bags were handed out and 2,000 information leaflets were distributed to encourage compliance with the freedom camping rules. “Everyone we spoke to throughout our time had a really good attitude and listened to the advice we gave,” said one ambassador, Brent Hallam, who covered the northern Coromandel area right up to Port Jackson as well as the Thames Coast.

This appears to be borne out in the 207 infringements notices which were issued by Bylaws officers, down from 312 over the same period last year. However, this may also have been impacted by COVID-19 which significantly changed the profile of the annual freedom camping influx. “The international visitors and young travellers usually have smaller campervans and travel around more, there just weren’t as many this year, they were all Kiwis with big campervans that would have otherwise gone abroad,” said Phil Andrews who spent a second season as an ambassador in Whitianga.

The Responsible Camping Fund allocation was also used to employ an additional six people to increase the frequency of cleaning at public toilets over the peak summer period.

Pictured: TCDC’s Responsible Camping Ambassadors. From the left - Liz Thomas, Heather Campbell, Brent Hallam and Phil Andrew, along with Bylaws Compliance Team Leader, Ken Ward. Absent from the photo are Responsible Camping Ambassadors Joke Streukens and Debbie Coyle.

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