Town camping banned
A SECRETLY imposed council ban on camping in the Murwillumbah Showgrounds has shocked the showground trust, town businesspeople, campers and even Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase.
“It’s red tape gone mad,” exclaimed Cr Polglase yesterday after being told of the ban. He vowed to find out why the ban was imposed.
Senior council staff are understood to have written to the Murwillumbah Showground Trust banning overnight camping not associated with events at the showground such as annual shows and dressage competitions.
The letter followed concerns that local State Emergency Service volunteers had to ask campers to evacuate last month as floodwaters rose in the middle of the night.
But yesterday local SES controller Chris Chrisostomos denied the SES had complained to the council saying his members had no problem with asking campers to move.
“It wasn’t an issue for us,” Mr Chrisostomos said.
“We don’t see it as a problem. We also see it is a viable income source for the town to have people stay and spend a bit of money.”
Showground Trust chairman Ian Dawes, whose organisation uses funds raised from campers to help maintain the grounds, found himself in a difficult position when asked to comment.
“We are currently having discussions with council so I’d prefer not to make any comment at this point,” Mr Dawes said.
Campers Anne-Marie Boyle and Lorraine McGregor were shocked by the ban.
They were allowed to stay at the weekend because they were part of an organised event – a camping weekend run by the Caravan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) - but said they would not come back as private campers if the ban stayed.
“We were here on the weekend with the Lismore chapter of the CMCA and that’s when we heard no individual camping could occur,” Ms Boyle said.
“They have changed the rules but we didn’t know why.
“We have been travelling around for a couple of months. Showgrounds are good places to camp.
“I don’t know how often it floods here but it’s just a pity. If we weren’t part of the CMCA we wouldn’t have been allowed to camp here.
“The town would miss out on our money. We eat in the town; we shop at the local shops. If they cut it out it will affect the local community.”
Phil Taylor, who sells and hires second-hand cars, said the showground had been a traditional camping ground close to Murwillumbah CBD.
A spokeswoman for the council officers was unable to provide a comment before deadline.