Residents get reprieve
LONG-TERM residents of the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park have gained a reprieve from eviction.
A Tenancy Tribunal agreement reached between the current lessee, Ashley Cooper, and the residents' advocate, Deirdre Dowsett has decided on January 18 as the day the park's 17 long-term residents will need to be in new housing.
Peter Osborn, who rents a caravan in the park and acts as a spokesman for the residents, said he was "reasonably happy" with the outcome.
"Most of us are breathing a sigh of relief that we will not be out on the streets for Christmas," Mr Osborn said.
Previously residents had believed they would have to be out of the park by November 12, the day eviction notices fell due.
Now Ms Dowsett, an advocate with the Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Service, will seek to obtain unanimous agreement from the residents, before returning to the tribunal on November 30 to sign off on it.
"If someone doesn't agree, then after that date Mr Cooper can put them out," Mr Osborn said.
"Some people are already working with housing agencies, now that they have a firm date."
It had been the residents' hope to get as much time as they could to allow them to be re-housed, Mr Osborn said.
Mr Cooper's lease on the park was due to expire in December, but it is understood he sought and was granted a month's extension.
Lismore City Council is in discussions with Peter Mann and Ellen-Joy Denny to lease the park from January.
Mr Mann and Ms Denny manage the Nimbin caravan park.
Residents are not supposed to remain in the Lismore park for more than 150 days and only those who have been there since September are affected by the recent tribunal negotiations, Mr Osborn said.
The tribunal hearing was the latest development in a long running saga concerning the caravan park.
Its role as a low-cost housing option was threatened by flooding in May 2009, when residents' lives were put at risk by deep, fast-flowing water.
The council reported then the ideal outcome from a risk-management perspective would be to close the park.
However it has acknowledged closure would put some of the region's most vulnerable people onto the street.
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