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The Press – News column Jan 27

Dealing to the Feckless Trash.

Are the lazy, hazy days of summer to blame? What’s with the city council’s phlegmatic inaction to festering public pests, whether it be the Woolston boom-box or Camp Beresford in Brighton? This undue sense of complicit inertia has once again reduced the civic administration of New Zealand’s second largest city to the blundering folly of a third-rate provincial council. If a knife hadn’t been pulled on The Press photographer, David Walker, what’s the bet the Euro trash on tour, would still be commandeering the carpark? On a separate note, how can this German thug’s brazen act of threatened violence merely result in a trifling police warning? With tensions escalating, the council finally managed to power up its Gestetner and run off some No Camping signs, on A4 paper.  As it was, I took a Saturday dawn walk down the beach, before calling by Camp Beresford. With 27 car loads parked up, beer bottles, pizza boxes and used toilet paper spilled across the site. I inadvertently disturbed a young German woman, who was taking a dump in the fenceline foliage. Classy.  The council’s liquor ban signage was strapped to the street pole on the Beresford St corner – another bylaw not enforced against these vermin tourists.  But as soon as the No Camping signs were nailed along the fence, the freeloaders promptly dispersed. On Friday, the council’s Enforcement Manager, Anne Columbus, indicated to me that invoking the Trespass Act might be deployed to clear the car park.  She also confirmed the council won’t consider crafting a specific Freedom Camping bylaw until March. This, of course, is the nub of the problem.  Since December 2011, local body authorities have been able to regulate freedom camping, underpinned with infringement fines.  The three year long failure of Christchurch to enact such a bylaw is a dereliction of duty. The Camp Beresford debacle will probably migrate to another unsuspecting spot. Maybe the CCC’s Worcester St entrance, with the water feature misappropriated as a toilet. Surprisingly, New Brighton’s Cr David East tells me he wants Rawhiti Domain reinstated as a fully equipped, free campground. But why should we the ratepayer give these foreign spongers a free ride, when there’s perfectly suitable low-cost  options available? Christchurch needs to replicate the sensibly crafted bylaw that Queenstown Lakes District Council vigorously enforces.  If your vehicle is not fully self-contained, freedom camping is banned outright. You must use campgrounds and holiday parks. Self-contained vehicles can use many designated public areas, which are generally away from town centres and residential areas.  Christchurch should adopt the same model, smartly.

Mike’s weekly opinion column on current affairs, as first published in The Press.  Jan 27.

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