Our Guest Speaker on Tuesday was Fiona Hyland.
Fiona addressed us on the subject of Freedom Campers and the new Freedom Camping by-law about to be foist upon us by the Auckland Council.
Fiona is in her own words an ordinary citizen and a resident of Auckland City. Before she became aware of the issue of Freedom Camping she went about her daily business, working in her business, bring up family without much thought of what the Auckland Council does. She could hardly be described as an activist.
However all that changed when she became aware of the councils proposals in relation to the Freedom Camping Legislation. Fiona is now well versed in the Council process, the Reserves Act and the proposed bylaw which purports to regulate Freedom Camping.
Fiona was shocked and surprised to find out the the bylaw being promoted to council to regulate Freedom Camping does so in the permitted areas which are a number of public parks throughout the city but does nothing to regulate freedom campers from parking up in non scheduled land which includes  our iconic beach front roads, most of the streets in Auckland City and anywhere else you can find a spot.  It is true that the council permits and regulates Freedom Camping in the permitted areas but there is a lacuna for other areas which means on a review of the proposed bylaw there will be unregulated camping the areas mentioned.
Fiona made the point that our Local Boards and elected representatives have been given a some-what one-sided view of the issues surrounding Freedom Camping and may not have been given adequate or appropriate advise by council officials.  The Eden Albert Board has tried to push back but the regulatory committee voted their opposition down.
While it may not be initially well known that in some areas there will be open slather on Freedom Camping Fiona is rightly concerned that the word will get around the freedom camping world in absolutely no time at all. Very quickly she asserted we will see vans and cars parking up, possibly for days on end in some of our iconic streets.  she noted that places like the Parnell Rose Garden and the waterfront would be particularly popular.
Although the council's  generous and well publicised consultation period, December to Mid February has come to and end Fiona said we can still lobby our elected representatives, whose contact email addresses are located on the Auckland Council website.
We can also lobby our local board members and MPs. if that is done successfully then the new by law may not make it through the council process.  If not then we may be faced with Freedom Camping taking place almost without restriction in Auckland
Fiona's address was well received by members and a spirited question session followed.