1400+ fines in just 9 days: Illegal campers invade Byron
Illegal camping is again in the spotlight as Byron Shire Council has revealed it issued more than 1454 infringements during a nine-day period.
Byron's acting mayor has slammed vanpacking "freeloaders" who continue to illegally camp in the shire's streets.
"Camping on the streets of the Byron Shire is prohibited and illegal and yet we have experienced unprecedented numbers of people arriving in their vans and blatantly camping overnight in our towns and our streets and out the front of our houses these holidays," acting mayor Michael Lyon said.
"Last year was a challenging year and I understand we are not experiencing a normal holiday
season but I think the vanpackers forget that when they park somewhere and set up for the night that the community is all around them, having to step over their pots and pans on their morning walk, or around the bit of park or footpath being used as a toilet.
"It's not okay and residents in Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby, Broken Head and Byron Bay are sick and tired of it.
"A freeloader is someone who takes something and gives nothing in return and that is just what these vanpackers are doing."
Cr Lyon said the council had 12 enforcement staff working seven days a week on two shifts during the Christmas and New Year period.
This involved early and late shifts to target illegal camping and other issues including uncontrolled dogs.
The council issued 1454 infringement notices from December 24 to January 2.
The majority of those related to illegal camping and parking and of those, 480 fines were issued between 6pm and 9am.
"Illegal camping is not a problem unique to the Byron Shire - other coastal areas including Tweed and Clarence Valley are also struggling," Cr Lyon said.
"In fact our staff have been contacted by councils in Western Australia and Queensland hoping to get some ideas on how to tackle their illegal camping problems."
Illegal camping is distinct from homelessness and rough sleeping.
The council has two public space liaison officers and is currently advertising a job for a rough sleeper project officer.