Roadside campers to get the boot
THE DAYS of illegal camping on the streets of Byron Bay are numbered as two tiers of government move to close a legal loophole that has blocked effective action against the practice.
Current legislation prevents councils from stopping street camping, as local governments cannot legally regulate the use of vehicles in a road or road-related area.
Byron Council's governance manager Ralph James said tourism in Byron Shire needed to be managed appropriately and sustainably.
"We welcome visitors to the Byron Shire and we want people to enjoy their time here, but at the same time we have to protect the community's amenity," he said.
Byron Shire Council has written to the Minister for Local Government asking for an amendment to the Local Government Act to allow it to regulate street camping, but it appears an October amendment in response to blatant street camping and roadside car sales in Sydney has already provided the legislative means necessary.
The Minister for Local Government Don Page told The Northern Star yesterday that although the amendment was specific to Sydney City Council, it did allow for ministerial discretion to be applied in other local government areas.
"Byron Shire Council may not be aware that I put an amendment through that says if any other councils in NSW finds themselves in a similar situation to Sydney, they can apply to me as the minister and I would more than likely grant them the exemption," he said.
"At the time I knew we had similar issues up our way so we framed it so that if councils needed to put up signs a bit out of the ordinary - which is the case in Byron - they can put up a sign that says 'No camping' and police it.
"So if Byron Shire Council were to approach me, there is already provision in the Act for me to approve that - so I await their application."
Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham welcomed the news, having previously lobbied for it in the NSW Upper House.
Concerns that overseas backpackers would skip the country and avoid paying local fines were rejected by a local campervan hire company.
A spokesperson for Wicked Campers said all infringements were passed on to customers through statutory declarations with their details, via the State Debt Recovery Office.
SHOULD STREET CAMPING IN BYRON BE BANNED? TELL US BELOW.