Standing firm over freedom camping fines

Arrowtown resident Glen Wallace and his fine for ``freedom camping'' on Rees St. PHOTO: GUY...
Arrowtown resident Glen Wallace and his fine for ``freedom camping'' on Rees St. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
A provision in the Freedom Camping Act that allows people to rest at roadsides to avoid driver fatigue does not allow people to sleep in their car "after a night out".

Queenstown Lakes District Council regulatory manager Anthony Hall said yesterday no reimbursement was being considered for two men fined by the council for freedom camping after sleeping in their cars.

Gore man Brayden Hardy, who was the sober driver for his mates' night out in Queenstown, but who pulled over to rest before driving home because he felt too tired to continue driving, and Arrowtown man Glen Wallace, who decided to sleep in his car in Queenstown after a night out drinking, received the fines.

Mr Wallace said the infringement notice sent the wrong message about drink-driving, and Mr Hardy's mother, Rachel Hardy, said she worried about the type of message authorities were sending to responsible drivers by imposing the fines.

Both men paid their $200 fines, but said they thought they should have been shown some leniency by the QLDC.

The Freedom Camping Act 2011 says freedom camping does not include resting or sleeping at the roadside in a caravan or motor vehicle to avoid driver fatigue.

However, Mr Hall said the QLDC's freedom camping bylaw was "clear about where and when it's OK to sleep in a vehicle, and that doesn't include in your car in the town centre streets".

An NZ Transport Agency factsheet indicated a rest of about 40 minutes was appropriate to address driver fatigue, Mr Hall said.

"We do not interpret `resting to avoid driver fatigue' as sleeping in your car in the town centre after a night out," Mr Hall said.

The council supported the police message not to drink and drive.

"We want our towns to be family-friendly and our roads to be safe for everyone.

"If anyone is planning, or ends up having, a big night out, always grab a taxi, take the bus, allocate a sober driver or stay over in a hotel, camp ground or with a friend - but not in your car."

There had been no further communication with Mr Hardy or Mr Wallace, and no reimbursement of their fines was being considered, Mr Hall said.

A fine would be waived only in "exceptional circumstances", such as an error by the enforcement officer or a medical emergency, he said.

He did not provide figures on how many people were fined for sleeping in their cars after a night out, but said "fortunately the number of occasions we see this type of behaviour is very few and we're pleased to say the vast majority of people manage to either make it home or make alternative arrangements".

Comments

Some of this problem can be contributed directly to the Councils implementation of the Freedom Camping Act which has a permissible intent, that is that freedom camping is allowed anywhere unless a site is specifically prohibited. This Council has done the exact opposite of the "intent' of the Act is prohibiting Freedom Camping everywhere. Added to this situation is lobbying by a large private organization to Councils to make all freedom camping restricted to vehicles meeting the outdated (and irrelevant to most campers) requirements of the Self Containment Standard (NZS;5465). Accreditation program for freedom campers placing the emphasis back on the people camping not the mode of camping is the only way forward in that regard. Fortunately such a program is available now in NZ

If the people are catching a nap for a couple of hours, it's not camping!!!
Queenstown Lakes District Council, all about the money, no commonsense.

 

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