I will be removing my caravan and annex from Yanakie Caravan Park (YCP).
I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed this wonderful place for approximately 10 years with my family but now a combination of the steep increase in fees, onerous compliance requirements and lack consultation or negotiation from council has meant my ongoing position in the park is untenable.
I warned council back in 2013, when I first heard of rumoured plans for the park, to settle in for a couple of years and get to really understand the unique nature of YCP before deciding on any changes.
This obviously fell on deaf ears and council have proceeded to make as many changes as possible with little or no understanding of the park.
I advised council more recently to reconsider its strict adherence to guidelines (not regulations).
This also fell on deaf ears.
I was shocked and dismayed to hear what would be required to make my site compliant: I would have to remove half of my annexe, all of my deck, replace all of the walls on my annexe, remove the shade cloth “fence” and remove my small garden shed.
I would also have to move my whole van and annexe 1.5m away from the eucalypt tree that it has stood next to for approximately 20 years.
Council has said it wants to retain as many annuals as possible and did not believe there would be an exodus, as I had mentioned.
It has now begun.
Most of the friends I spoke to over the Christmas period were preparing to leave and all indicated they would be going before the full year’s fees were due in March.
Another family who we came to know at the park have already left and abandoned their van.
There are many very intelligent people at YCP with many years of industry, local government and business experience.
But they have been treated with a distain that is irresponsible beyond belief.
Council’s recent decision to approve its own permit to remove a perfectly healthy and safe row of trees is evidence of this.
Council has no idea of the value that those trees provide to the caravan park as a wind break, habitat and foreshore stabilisation.
Despite the opinion of experts and people with years of experience at this park, council decided to proceed with this ill-considered plan without so much as even an Environmental Impact Study.
We are not fools and are aware of your plans to relocate the annual vans and put cabins there.
A council that was acting in an open and up front consultative manner would have been honest about this from the start and worked with rather than against the annual permit holders.
A matter that has not been considered by council is the effect that it is going to have on local business.
Loss of annuals will have ramifications at the Yanakie store.
Also, by following through on plans to relocate cabins to the front row and trying to draw more customers for short term accommodation, council is in fact establishing itself as a direct competitor to the local accommodation businesses in the area.
Local Government was never meant to be a profit making enterprise and I believe council have forgotten this and lost its way.
When the predicted demise of the caravan park is finally visible to all and is sapping ratepayers’ funds as I predicted, I hope council can reflect on the series of poor decisions and absolute stubbornness and learn some valuable lessons from this debacle.
On a brighter note I have decided that my money will be better spent buying a property in the area and will soon be a rate payer in the South Gippsland Shire.
I will be taking a great deal of interest in the financial matters of the YCP and will be sure to hold council to account for any unnecessary financial impost on ratepayers.
I may even run for council in the upcoming elections!
Phillip Price, Yanakie via Lilydale
Mass exodus begins