Debate over plans for Railton’s free van site

A stoush has erupted over aKentish Councilproposalto lease afree camper van area at Railton to the Campervan andMotorhome Club of Australia for the exclusive use of its members.
Nanjing Night Net

Happy campers: Rodney McCarthy, of Railton, chats to Queenslanders Peter and Chris Blackley and Michael and Chris Chilcott at the free van site.

The plan has upset some Railton ratepayers who wroteto the council to object. Rodney McCarthy, president of the Railton and Districts Development Association,said the councilwas urged to consult morebefore adecision ismade.Kentish MayorDon Thwaitessaid the CMCA approached the council to develop the siteand waskeen to establish new parks in Tasmania. The CMCA told the councilitwould bring more vansto Railton.

“TheCMCA hasbig plans to improve the amenities at a number of parks which they would manage and get a caretaker in to look after their parks,” Councillor Thwaitessaid. It would cost CMCA members $6 a night to stay at the Railton site.

“We were trying toget as many low-cost campers as we could there,which seemed like a good idea,but Rodney is not convinced, andhe is asking us to look at analternative, and I think that’s fair enough,” the mayor said.

Hesaid the council would discuss the objections raisedata workshop on Tuesday night. Herejected theideathe council did not publicise itsplans well enough. “It was discussed at one of the regular community meetings we have every six months and people at the meetingwere in favour of it.”

Councillor Thwaites said this wasstill the consultation period andthe council hadnot made a commitment. Hesaid alease arrangement or development application would haveto go before council. Councillor Thwaites said if theCMCA did leasethe site, others could camp at afree site offered by the Railton Hotelor at Sheffield or Lake Barrington. He said the council toldthe CMCA anyoneshould be able to use thedump point if the lease went ahead.

“We’re not doing it for the moneywe’re trying toincrease the people staying there. Whatever we do wewill have to take a gamble,” the mayor said.

Mr McCarthy said the free area isused byself-contained campervans and caravans. He said itwas established by the community which negotiated to get the council to extend it. He said a Tasmanian Community Fund grant was used to add outdoor exercise equipment andbusinesses helpedwith donations. “Thereason the council isdoing this is so itcan wash itshands of it and minimise itsresponsibility for the area,” he said.

“I’m wary a deal has been done.”

Mr McCarthy said he understood adevelopment application has beenlodgedto take over the free camping area,which includesRailton’s onlyoff-leash dog area, for the exclusive use of CMCA members.“Forevery person they attract I think they are going to turn someone away,” he said.

“Overthree days I surveyed campers and 75% of people staying there were not CMCA members. It’s a town asset at the moment and the council wants to hand that to an exclusive cub which we’re not happy with.”

Mr McCarthy saidhe had nothing against CMCA members camping atRailton.

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