’Can’t pay, then don’t stay’ in the Byron Shire
IN AN effort to discourage illegal campers and placate residents, on Christmas Eve Byron Shire Council issued a reminder there is no free camping available in the Byron Shire.
Using technology including licence plate recognition technology and pre-dawn starts, the council is aiming to turf off the freeloaders who often leave their rubbish behind.
A council representative said the message is aimed at all people who think they will be able to sleep in their cars or vans in carparks or on residential streets this holiday season.
"If you can't pay then don't stay, there is no free camping in the Byron Shire."
Acting general manager, Phil Holloway, said the council's enforcement team will not be on holidays this festive season rather staff will be working seven days a week targeting illegal camping.
"They will be working long hours, across the whole shire including Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby, finishing late and starting at 4am," Mr Holloway said.
"Illegal camping is an enormous problem generally in the Byron Shire but it certainly gets worse over the Christmas holiday period.
"Our cars are equipped with licence plate recognition technology which means an infringement notice can be sent directly to the person who owns the vehicle."
Mr Holloway said there are 15 legal camp grounds in the Byron Shire and information about their locations is widely available on the internet and at the Byron Visitor Centre.
"If people aren't prepared to pay for accommodation in a camping ground then they should not stay in the Byron Shire because it's highly likely they will receive a fine if they stay on the street," Mr Holloway said.
Complaints from Byron Shire residents to the council show illegal camping and parking are important issues with more than 1951 reports received from January 1 - December 18 this year, with 879 relating to camping.
Abandoned vehicles (475) and parked vehicles (556) made up the majority of other complaints.
"Residents are thoroughly sick and tired of people camping illegally in their streets and in carparks.
"They often leave their mess behind, set up makeshift kitchens in parks and on footpaths and even defecate and urinate on the footpaths or in people's gardens.
"Just last week a resident sent through photos of faeces and toilet paper strewn across a garden at Belongil," Mr Holloway said.
Staff will also be doing patrols at Broken Head and Seven Mile Beach Road.