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Backflip possible

THE new South Gippsland Shire Council could revise its controversial management of caravan parks at the September council meeting.

Council will then receive a report about the options available for the ongoing management of the Yanakie and Long Jetty caravan parks.

Cr Aaron Brown last Wednesday gave a strong indication council could reconsider its direct management of the Yanakie and Long Jetty caravan parks when he told council, “From what I have seen already, council does not have the skills or the cost structure to run these caravan parks efficiently.”

Cr Brown added he concurred with community sentiment that opposed council’s involvement in those parks, which have reportedly resulted in more than 150 annuals leaving the parks due to council deeming their caravans non-compliant with State Government guidelines and wishing to make more spaces available for casual visitors.

The previous council believed running the parks would provide income to council in the long run – with the prospect of leasing the parks out again – but it seems the new council is not so sure.

Council has reportedly spent around $2 million on upgrading facilities at the parks and employing staff, and is reportedly predicting a loss of $280,000 on the parks in 2017-18.

Council would not tell The Star how much it had spent on capital works and staff since taking over the parks, nor when it envisaged the parks would return a profit.

Cr Lorraine Brunt told council last week council’s investment will balance out over maybe five years.

Council took over the Yanakie park in September 2013 and Long Jetty afterwards.

Another sign of the new council’s different outlook of caravan parks came when council voted to let the Waratah Bay Caravan Park remain under the management of a private lessee.

A proposed lease was adopted by council last Wednesday and is yet to be finalised with the current park managers, Jim and Bernadette Harry, who have managed the park for the past 18 years.

Cr Brown said such a model “is the way to go”, rather than council employing staff to coordinate and manage the parks.

The proposed new lease arrangement, Cr Brown said, would enable council to ensure the Waratah Bay Caravan Park could become compliant with the government guidelines.

“Council does not need to get involved when there is a much easier option,” he said.

Cr Andrew McEwen agreed with Cr Brown, saying, “On current evidence, it is clear that council clearly has difficulty running the other parks.”

He said previous lease arrangements for the Waratah Bay, Yanakie and Long Jetty caravan parks yielded little return for council – as low as $2 per site per day – and council had spent millions of dollars subsidising the commercial operators of the parks.

Cr McEwen said council needed to lift the standard of the Waratah Bay Caravan Park, make it more accessible to the public and ensure it makes council a reasonable return.

Cr Alyson Skinner commented, “We have learnt a lot from what we have done in the past.”

The Star asked mayor Cr Ray Argento before last Wednesday’s meeting if the new council still supported retaining the existing arrangement of council managing the parks directly.

He said, “It will be the decisions of the councillors as to how they will vote.

“We will gather all the information to make an informed decision.”

In the 2017-18 budget, council aims to spend:

  • $108,000 on a camp kitchen and communal area at Yanakie; and
  • $65,000 on a kiosk/front office/residence at Long Jetty.

In future capital works at Yanakie, council plans to spend $168,116 (2018-19), $592,975 (2019-20), $511,413 (2020-21), $137,167 (2021-22) and further expenses in future years.

At Long Jetty, capital works expenditure is $109,881 (2019-20), $66,236 (2020-21), $107,778 (2021-22) and further expenses in future years.

 

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=22057

Posted by on Aug 1 2017. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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