Freedom campers face lockdown abuse

Some freedom campers using supermarkets during lockdown have been abused. Photo: Supplied.

Freedom campers given emergency accommodation are coming under fire from the public.

The covid-19 crisis spurred council to take swift action to protect the region’s homeless and freedom campers in the area.

But people using their vans to get to and from the supermarket are being accused by some of flouting the rules.

Council’s Marlborough Civil Defence emergency manager Brian Paton says there is not a freedom camper in the region they are not aware of.

“They are in campgrounds all over the region and when they’re going to the supermarket and need to take their campers or vans, they are being abused like nobody’s business.

“People need to lay off and be kind; think about the impression they’re giving of New Zealand,” he says.

Emergency accommodation has been found for all known people sleeping rough or freedom campers trapped in Marlborough as the lockdown came into effect.

Marlborough District Council are picking up the bill for both groups, but all costs will be recouped.

Forty freedom campers have been found accommodation elsewhere in campsites across Marlborough.

“Emergency accommodation for people who’re sleeping on the streets has been found and we don’t know of any freedom campers who have not been directed elsewhere.

“Because we’ve directed them to going there [to lodgings] we’ll pay bills initially and will recover 100 per cent from central Government coffers,” Brian says.

He also wants to reassure members of the public that no money raised from rates was being spent on people from out with the region.

“We’re making sure of it by having a really robust system that everyone gets and can keep track of so it can all be reconciled at the end,” he says.

Brian also paid tribute to campground owners and hoteliers for their support during a tough time.

“They’ve been phenomenal.

“I can’t emphasise enough how brilliant the majority have been who’ve just taken people on when we’ve asked.

“We’re seeing a lot of the best in people, occasionally the worst, but mainly the best.”

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