Yanakie Caravan Park regulars Rod Francis, Damien Lindau and Stuart Cook are at a loss to say how many of the annual permit holders would be able to comply with the new shire policy.
By ‘King George’
South Gippsland fishing identity, Alan ‘King George’ McFayden visited both the Yanakie and Port Welshpool caravan parks last Sunday and was dismayed by what he saw and heard.
He said annual permit holders felt threatened, scared, isolated and bewildered by the South Gippsland Shire Council’s ultimatum that their vans must comply with the new policies or effectively face eviction.
He also discovered that the shire’s own management efforts left a lot to be desired…
OVER the years, the caravan parks at Yanakie and Port Welshpool have been a favourite destination for large numbers of people who like nothing more than spending their time relaxing with friends at their favourite resorts.
That was up until recent times when the heavy hand of authority has come down and needlessly caused untold anxiety to those least equipped to handle being bullied by unnecessary red tape.
One of the effected annual permit holders is Rod Francis who I met at his caravan at Yanakie last Sunday.
He says that at Yanakie, about 70 per cent of site holders are fishing people and over the years there have been numerous fishing competitions organised among the holiday makers who have vans on sites with up to 350 people participating.
Sadly this has come to an end due to council interference. Rod says that council representatives claim they will run the event themselves but when asked how they would do it, they don’t have an answer.
It was in about September last year that the Council took over the running of the parks and the fees have increased by 30 per cent.
Since then about 75 per cent of the toilets, showers, urinals and laundries have been out of order (at Yanakie).
The toilet system has been out of action for about six months and there was a constant flow of water, which has been photographed and the photos handed to the council.
A meeting was arranged at the council office in Leongatha where the Yanakie group had five representatives, according to Rod, and the council had the mayor, three councillors, Tim Tamlin the CEO, Andrew Seabrook director of engineering services and Chris Vanderark property manager.
“At the meeting the mayor and CEO agreed that the issues that we presented were valid and the situation with the facilities not acceptable,” said Rod.
“We were told that repairs would only take as long as it would take to order the replacement parts.
“About four weeks passed and nothing had happened and another set of photos were sent to council, again highlighting the issues but we received no reply which left us so frustrated.”
The park’s main toilet block is still out of action with yellow tape displayed preventing access.
Also at the park, there is a reduced amount of rubbish collected which is nowhere near adequate and as a result there have been numerous problems with rubbish.
“We have also been told that the trees in front of the park are going to be removed. The reason given being that they are in a dangerous state, according to an arborist. However there are three expert opinions that state that the trees are in a healthy
state. The council’s reply
was that they didn’t care about that, the trees were going to be removed and with them, some 30 caravan sites were also going to be lost as well.”
Apparently the trees were planted by local Girl Guides as well as the CWA in the 1970s and appear to be in a healthy state.
Rod said annual permit holders had now been presented with a set of conditions with which many would not be able to comply.
One matter concerns the registration of vans but the park has been allowed to develop over the years in a manner which makes registration of many impossible.
Many caravans have had annexes attached as well as concrete floors added, which look attractive, serviceable and secure but are now non-compliant, according to the shire.
This is now suddenly not good enough and the vans must be able to be registered which is an impossible situation for many site occupiers as the vans, having annexes now securely attached and with draw bars and wheels long since removed; can’t be shifted.
No date has been set on compliance but it’s clear that with the leases being 12 months duration, the shire would have the option of not renewing leases at the end of 12 months.
Many annuals have invested both financially and emotionally in the parks and this sudden, heavy-handed action by council has caused nothing but distress to many of those affected.
They are prepared to listen to a common sense proposal but feel that what is being demanded of them is completely unworkable and unnecessary.
As well as the toilets being out of order, other problems were pointed out to me at Yanakie, as follows:
* Another fee which they consider grossly unfair is the fee of $300 pa which is now applied to boats on van sites. There was a ban on flushing of boat motors but that has since been lifted.
* There’s also a ban on motor lawn mowers with only hand mowers permitted for use on sites. What about elderly people who would not be able to push a hand mower, crazy!
* The septic site at the park has been damaged by a cherry picker and as a result hasn’t been repaired, just fenced off and left.
* There is a rule banning any pruning of trees on sites without a permit but CFA rules state that there must be a 1.2 metre clearance. Which one do they comply with?
* In the middle of the park is a rusted iron table that appears to be beyond repair with one of the top surface railing panels now lying on the ground. This appears to pose a hazard which should be immediately removed for safety purposes.
* A recent sale of a non-compliant van has been allowed to go ahead leaving the new owner in a difficult situation.
The situation is similar at the Long Jetty Caravan Park at Port Welshpool where numerous residents very just as worried.
One resident who I spoke to has been at the park for over 11 years but doesn’t want to have his name published for fear of reprisals. He says he fears that he will be forced out of the park. He says that there is a wonderful community atmosphere at the park where everyone gets on very well together but that all this now is in danger of coming to a close with restrictions that will place an impossible burden on himself, his wife and many of their friends.
It’s a bloody awful situation for everyone concerned. They are being very shabbily treated by the shire for doing nothing wrong. The situation has been allowed to develop this way for years, virtually with the shire’s approval.