Help for park residents

RELATED: Help with relocation is ‘positive news’

WELLINGTON Shire Council will consider assistance payments of up to $5000 for residents of Sale’s Thomson River Caravan Park if they are forced to move.

Councillors will receive a report on September 17 which recommends closing the park, citing costly frequent flooding and the danger to human life as major considerations.

The recommendation is for the park to close at the end of the current financial year, with all sites vacated by June 30 next year.

However if council decides to close the park, it has pledged to help park residents and tenants relocate, with assistance packages proposed.

Mayor Scott Rossetti said residents and tenants had been informed of the park’s potential closure and council officers were working closely with residents and assistance agencies to ensure that, should the park close, residents would be found suitable alternate accommodation.

“Thomson River Caravan Park is home to approximately 30 permanent residents, in addition to the 38 sites leased annually by tenants for the purpose of holiday accommodation, and sites available for tourists,” Cr Rossetti said.

“It is important that we recognise the residents and tenants through this process and ensure that we are able to offer them all the most appropriate alternatives.

“The report proposes assistance payments from council of up to $5000 per residential site should the park close.

“These payments would go towards specific re-establishment costs, such as bonds and rent, and go hand in hand with the help we, and other agencies can provide finding alternate local housing options.”

Cr Rossetti said council was working closely with all residents to understand their individual circumstances and had convened a working group of assistance agencies including the Department of Human Services, UnitingCare Gippsland, Centrelink, Quantum, Community Housing Limited and the Salvation Army, to establish what options may be made available.

“Annual park tenants, some of whom have leased holiday home sites on an annual basis for up to 30 years, have 12 month site agreements with no guarantee of ongoing arrangements,” Cr Rossetti said.

“In order to help these tenants find and relocate to alternate holiday sites, the report proposes that as well as provision of information about local caravan park options, council may also consider financial assistance to ease this process.”

Proposed financial assistance payments would only apply for tenants who vacate their holiday sites, removing their entire infrastructure, excluding any existing concrete slabs, by pre-determined dates before to the end of the financial year.

Cr Rossetti said the park had been subjected to five floods in the past five years, each with an approximate cost of up to $500,000 across all involved relief and recovery agencies, including the emergency services.

“Council has recently accepted surrender of the lease from Caravan Parks Victoria Pty Ltd, due to the ongoing financial issues which occurred as a result of flood recovery,” he said.

“Surrender of the lease provides us with the right opportunity to consider whether ongoing operation of the park is viable and in the best interests of our community.

“We will consider the full report at our meeting on September 17, 2013, at 6pm.”

A frequently asked questions information sheet is available online at www.wellington.vic.gov.au

People seeking more assistance are encouraged to phone council on 1300 366 244.