Caravan park evictions

WELLINGTON Shire Council has issued eviction notices to six residents living in the Maffra Holiday Park, and there are plans to redevelop the park into a more RV-friendly facility.

Council says the park is intended as a temporary destination, not for permanent residence, but residents say they have no other choice.

Those served notice will have 120 days to find new accommodation, which Wellington Shire mayor Darren McCubbin said was twice the legal requirement.

Cr McCubbin said council staff and agencies were working with residents to find housing options.

“Our priority is the welfare of the park’s remaining residents and to oversee their relocation to more appropriate housing,” he said.

“In a similar way to how we facilitated positive outcomes for all of the residents at Thomson River Caravan Park, we are working toward ensuring that the small number of residents at Maffra are found more suitable, permanent solutions.”

The Thomson River Caravan Park near Sale was closed two years ago, with council deciding the cost of damage caused by regular flooding and the inherent danger to residents could not continue.

Owners of vans were compensated with a relocation assistance package.

As none of the residents own vans in Maffra, no compensation will be offered.

Council said a number of residents had already been relocated.

The news comes as more people are struggling to find affordable housing in the area, and support from mental health agencies.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said having to move from the park would be a challenge, and may lead to him quitting his job.

“My work at the moment is milking cows, ” he said.

“I enjoy it, but what can I do, sleep under a bridge?”

The resident said a few people wanted to close the caravan park down because of its reputation.

However, the resident said trouble makers had already moved on.

Another semi-permanent resident said the park was on Crown land, pointing out many other caravan parks in the area had permanent residents.

Council hopes to redevelop the Maffra caravan park, turning it into a short stay and RV park, in conjunction with Maffra Business and Tourism Association.

This would include establishing a dump point, solar lighting, landscaping and signs, as well as the demolition of some old facilities.

Council had been struggling to find a lessee for the park.

However transforming it into a short stay-RV park meant that it would not need a lessee, according to the council.

“Council will be presented with options to consider how it may be repositioned to better support the local economy and therefore be of greater benefit to the broad community in its entirety,” Cr McCubbin said.

“We are keen to work with the Maffra community and the business and tourism association to drive increased visitation for the town and area.

“All the work our officers have completed so far suggests that the community believes this would be a positive outcome.”

Council will further discuss the caravan park when it meets next Tuesday, May 17, from 6pm in the council chambers on Foster St, Sale.