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RV issue hits Walpole

AS CONTROVERSY simmers over Mount Barker’s free overnight recreational vehicle stop, Manjimup’s Shire planner has vowed to heed concerns of Walpole residents over free overnight RV stays beside their main drag.

The Shire recently sought comments on how to deal with RVs in the verdant south coast town, and 34 submissions were received.

On April 16, the Walpole Town Centre Revitalisation Committee heard that 60 to 70 per cent of respondents opposed the current situation where RVs park overnight, for free, in a bituminised area across South Coast Highway from the town centre.

CAPTION: Mr Gardner and a Corymbia ficofolia across the highway from Walpole’s current RV stop. Photo: Chris Thomson

The committee’s community member Ivan Gardner, who lives and works directly across from the parking area, said that, in summer, free overnight RV stays had “choked” the parking lot up.

“All of a sudden, the original stakeholders – the Westrail bus, the school bus, the school parents, the truck – couldn’t access it,” he explained.

“We had 13 four-wheel-drives and caravans there one night with no room for other, original users.”

Also on April 16, the committee heard respondents had asked that RV parking be limited to a maximum 48 hours.

Committee member and Manjimup councillor David Tapley moved that a fee of $10 per night be charged at eight to 10 overnight RV parking spaces to be created somewhere else in Walpole.

The motion, seconded by Mr Gardner, was unanimously carried.

“I talk to a lot of people and I make it my business to know that people want RVs but they don’t want them parking overnight in the main street,” Mr Gardner told The Voice of the South.

“And we don’t want it to be free – anything that’s free gets abused to the billyo.”

He said a good spot for a purpose-built RV area would be down by the town’s jetty.

“Down there, we have a tank hooked up to town sewerage,” he added.

“So, we could put our dump point down there.

“There’s Shire land there that would be ideal – and that’s a two-minute walk to the pub and a five-minute walk to town.”

Cr Tapley told The Voice of the South the west end of Pioneer Park, or Town Jetty, were two possible locations for a purpose-built RV park. He said he would prefer the existing parking lot in town be for rest only, and not for overnight stays.

He expressed confidence that a balance could be reached between the needs of locals and those of the RV community.

Shire planner Brian Robinson, who chairs the committee, last week advised that a report would be prepared for consideration at the next Shire Council meeting on June 13.

Mr Robinson promised the report would address the committee’s comments.

It was recently reported here that Plantagenet Shire councillor Sue Etherington had circulated a petition to see if resolution could be reached on Mount Barker’s contentious free overnight RV and caravan stop. An earlier article on that RV site drew 68 comments and more than 5000 clicks on voiceofthesouth.com.au.

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