MP backs residents in campground battle

BILL MOORE
Last updated 12:58 19/03/2014

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Residents of the Brook Valley Holiday Park should be allowed to stay put, says Nelson-based Labour list MP Maryan Street.

She said she'd visited the camp after hearing that the Nelson City Council was proposing to close it, displacing about 50 residents, some of whom have lived there for many years.

"I came away convinced that the disruption to these people's well-settled lives was not worth the effort the council would have to put in to resettle them elsewhere, probably with inferior conditions to the ones they enjoy now."

Ms Street said she would be taking up the finances around the camp with Mayor Rachel Reese, having already broached the subject at a public meeting they both attended.

"These people deserve to be treated with respect and not moved about simply to offset some discrepancies elsewhere in the council's books," she said.

Nelson MP and Housing Minister Nick Smith said he had been briefed by the mayor and council on the intended changes and expressed the need to provide alternatives if the closure went ahead.

He had also met a group of concerned residents.

"I generally like to let the elected council - it's their land, their campground - make the decisions on the issue, although I do think they have a residual responsibility to provide options for the residents."

The council was under "fiscal pressures" and he wasn't critical of it for having "a hard look" right across its operations in areas where it needed to be prudent, Dr Smith said.

The Brook camp had provided low-cost and temporary housing. The Government was supporting the Nelson-Tasman Housing Trust to provide more low-cost housing that might be suitable for some camp residents, he said.

"I am sufficiently pragmatic though that there will always be a group of people of which, whether it be at the Tahunuanui, the Maitai or some of the other campgrounds in the area, will choose as a low-cost housing option for them, and I would not want to see that option completely lost," Dr Smith said.

On Saturday the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust said it had been "blindsided" by the council's proposal to close the camp, and would be making a submission against the closure.

Meanwhile, the council said it hoped to supply reports on the Brook camp to the Nelson Mail by the end of the week.

The Mail sought reports from the last five years on March 3..

Council communications manager Angela Ricker said last Thursday that she was working on getting the reports, but could not guarantee they would be provided by the end of this week.

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Under the terms of the Official Information Act, a request must be answered within 20 working days.

The council has said that the camp is losing around $175,000 a year which is met by a ratepayer subsidy, but the previous lessee, Tahuna Beach Camp Inc, has given the Mail financial statements showing it was making a small annual profit on the Brook before handing the lease back to the council in 2010. It did so because it sought a six-year extension but the council would only offer one year, board members said.

- Nelson

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