Caravan park site holders fight to stay put

STRUGGLE: Jackie Beith and Renee Living are among those applying to take over the lease of Welshman's Creek Caravan Park. Picture: LIZ FLEMING

STRUGGLE: Jackie Beith and Renee Living are among those applying to take over the lease of Welshman's Creek Caravan Park. Picture: LIZ FLEMING

RESIDENTS at Welshmans Reef Caravan Park have formed a not-for-profit committee to fight to retain their site.

The committee will apply to Consumer Affairs to take over the lease of the caravan park, near Newstead, from Goulburn-Murray Water.

Their move comes in response to a letter from the water authority last month giving 67 siteholders until November 10 to vacate the park. 

Residents met last weekend to form a committee and elect a president and other representatives.

Newly elected secretary Jackie Beith said the formation of the committee and its planned actions were a “monumental step forward” in the struggle to remain at the site.

“We were sort of in limbo not knowing what our options were,” she said.

She said taking over the lease of the park was the first of many hurdles before site holders would be able to celebrate success.  

“If we manage to obtain the lease then we still have work to complete to ensure our park is compliant with registration requirements,” Ms Beith said.

The requirements include an emergency management plan, CFA and sewerage upgrades - three costly projects that require significant funding.

“We have to have those three things in order for Mt Alexander Shire to register us as a caravan park,” Ms Beith said.

The water authority has said the upgrades would cost $2.6 million, with the out-dated sewerage system the primary concern.

Ms Beith said the committee had already received pledges of support from caravan park site holders and the surrounding community to keep the cost of upgrades to a minimum.

There have been offers for plumbing, construction, heavy machinery operation, book keeping, legal advice and supplying materials at discounted prices.  

“By utilizing these pledges we hope to reduce the cost of the works to a more manageable figure,” Ms Beith said.

“We think we can get that figure down a lot, we just not sure to what at this stage.”

The water authority's managing director Gavin Hanlon said his organisation met with site holders last week and was informed of their intention to form a not-for-profit committee.

"GMW is working with them to explore future management possibilities," Mr Hanlon said.

"Moving forward, GMW will expect commitments that infrastructure investments will be undertaken with associated time-frames," he said.

"GMW understands that members of the proposed not-for-profit have met with Mt Alexander Shire Council representatives about the Park’s registration."

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