Minister signs off on camping clampdown

Illegal campers are set to lose their loophole at South Beach.

TRANSPORT minister Rita Saffioti has signed off on a plan to give Fremantle council powers to fine and move on illegal campers at South Beach.

A couple of dozen camper vans have been taking advantage of a portion of the beach’s carpark which is owned by the Public Transport Authority, leaving the City with no authority to act.

They have resulted in many complaints to the council from beachgoers frustrated at the long walks they now face for a dip and from locals unhappy about the noise and anti-social behaviour (“Campers thumb noses at rangers,” Herald, January 21, 2023).

But on Thursday Ms Saffioti wrote to mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge to let her know the PTA was drawing up a “private parking agreement” which would fire up the council’s local parking law.

Ms Saffioti said it was a “simple and effective solution that can be implemented quickly.

“It is also intended that rather than an annual renewal, the agreement will be on a five-yearly basis,” she wrote.

“The PTA is preparing the necessary documentation to have this agreement application forwarded to the City as soon as possible, given that the summer months are when the City receives the bulk of complaints about the camping activity.”

Ms Fitzhardinge said she hopes to have the agreement in place so rangers and community safety staff can start moving campers in the next few weeks.

“Also, at the moment there is four-hour parking during the day, so we will change that so it is on the weekends as well,” Ms Fitzhardinge said.

She believes most locals will have got in a dip and a coffee within that time, but says if the rangers start catching too many of them out, the council would have another look at the initiative.

Fremantle MP Simone McGurk had been liaising with Ms Saffioti’s office to alert them to the scale of the problem.

“These public places are not camping grounds and I can I understand residents getting frustrated with backpackers and travellers taking advantage of an administrative loophole to avoid being moved on,” she said. 

“I am pleased that the minister has put forward a simple, straightforward solution and has been able to work with local government to resolve this ongoing issue.”


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