'It’s ridiculous': Pensioner booted from home with day's notice

A pensioner recovering from a stroke is "stressed to the max" after being given just 24 hours’ notice to vacate a Taieri camping ground where he has been living for the past decade.

Craig Reeves, 71, is one of about a dozen long-term residents at the Otago Taieri A&P Society showgrounds campsite who received an eviction letter from the society, dated Wednesday, but delivered yesterday morning.

The letter said the society had been looking into the legality of its camping facility and found "to our dismay" that it did not have any consents relating to its operation.

"As a result, we are temporarily shutting down our camp-over facility until we have sorted this issue with the Dunedin City Council through our lawyer and planner, as we appear to be in breach of local council regulations.

"On the advice of our lawyers, we will be shutting down all infrastructure related to this facility with immediate effect and advise that you need to vacate our premises by 9am Friday, December 8, 2023."

Craig Reeves, who lives in the bus at left, has received an eviction letter, telling him and...
Craig Reeves, who lives in the bus at left, has received an eviction letter, telling him and fellow long-term campers at the Otago Taieri A&P Society showgrounds they have 24 hours to move out. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH

Mr Reeves said the power and other infrastructure was turned off immediately and he was worried about his health.

He had a stroke about a year ago and needed the power for a machine to assist him with breathing.

As a result of the stroke, he had been stood down from driving for one year and was not legally allowed to move the bus he lives in.

While he could find someone else to move it, he had nowhere to move it to.

"There’s other motorcamps in Dunedin, but they’re all on restricted time — 7-14 days, not permanent — and their rates are much higher.

"Every seven days, I’d have to find somebody to move my bus to somewhere else.

"Dunedin is woefully under-served in terms of long-term parks."

Many other residents were moving to the Wingatui Racecourse carpark, but that would not work for him because there was no electricity.

Fellow resident Trevor Greeves, who had been at the park on and off for about 15 years, said the eviction letter was not a total surprise.

"There’s been a lot of rumours floating around.

"We were expecting it at some stage because they said they were going to close it down and reopen it when they got consent.

"But they never officially communicated that to us until this morning.

"It’s ridiculous — 24 hours’ notice. It should have been at least a week so we could prepare for it."

He believed the committee must have known the park would have to close long before yesterday morning.

"I can’t see the DCC turning up last night and saying to the campground, ‘we’re closing you down, you’ve got to get them all out by tomorrow’.

"But not one of the committee members has spoken to any of the residents about it around here."

Mr Reeves said he was shocked the committee did not know it did not have consent to run a campground at the facility.

"To say now that they’ve been operating without having any consent is just ridiculous."

Luxury caravan owner Trevor Greeves packs up his camp site.
Luxury caravan owner Trevor Greeves packs up his camp site.
He was upset it had taken a "combative and aggressive" approach.

"No-one has refused to go. We just would have liked a bit more time, communication and understanding.

"I’m disappointed that there wasn’t enough empathy and compassion within that committee that they couldn’t have let people know at the start of their decision to remove residents.

"They could have just called us all together for a meeting and let us all know when they decided to change the direction of the park."

Otago Taieri A&P Society spokesman John Freeland did not return calls from the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

The Dunedin City Council could not confirm or deny the society had the necessary consents to operate a camping ground yesterday.