State Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle recently met with the Beerwah Sportsground Management Committee to help find a way forward in their long and frustrating battle with the Sunshine Coast Council over changes to their lease agreement.
Under the current lease they are unable to provide basic power to guests despite having council approved power points at each of the 25 caravan sites. Additionally, the lease no longer permits the Sportsground to accept bookings from Caravan Clubs and associated groups.
“Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, with movement in Queensland and our borders only just reopened businesses are attempting to reopen and adjust to a changing tourism and hospitality landscape, Beerwah Sportsground is fighting for its economic life and the right to simply provide basic services to travellers,” Mr McArdle said
“There are two primary issues Council has raised, which the Beerwah Sportsground Management Committee are trying desperately to resolve:
“Firstly, in 2017 the Council revoked the Management Committee’s right to provide power to travellers, siting that this violated the Approval of Limited Facilities Camping – Interim Policy which the Council endorsed for the Sportsground in 2014. Yet it was Council itself that approved the installation of the power points at every camp site in 2006.
“Secondly, in February 2020, the Management Committee received advice that they would no longer be permitted to host rallies or gatherings for Caravan Clubs as their lease states that the permitted use of the land is sports ground and ancillary activities though the land on which the club operates is deemed as ‘Showground and Recreational Reserve’. Surely ‘Recreation’ covers ‘caravans’.
“This is another example of how Council, time and time again, interprets State and Local laws. I cannot imagine what purpose any of this mess serves to assist the local community particularly given our current economic situation.”
Beerwah Sportsground spokesperson Jenny Broderick said in a time where Queensland is apparently ‘Good to Go’, and all levels of Government are encouraging local tourism, it makes no sense that the Beerwah Sportsground is being unfairly limited in their ability to attract tourism to the area.
“Our Sportsground has been hosting Caravan Rallies since 1984, yet now we are unable to host as a result of the incorrect description of the Grounds on a lease created by Council. These rallies inject thousands of dollars into our local economy, benefitting many small, local businesses,” Mrs Broderick said.
“Not to mention, this school holidays alone we have declined almost 70 percent of enquiries mostly because of our inability to offer power to the campers. Power is available – however, we have been instructed not to allow campers access. At a Council Officers own admission, there is no legislation stating that we are unable to offer power at the Campsites, it was a decision made at their own discretion.
“Our Sportsground does have points of difference from other sites in the region. We can offer large open spaces for Caravan rallies and a limited camping facility catering for campers who are not interested in staying at commercial Caravan parks. Our facility also allows for larger vans and RVs that simply do not fit at many other standard commercial premises.
“When enquiries were made as to where the visitors we declined would go, all of them were heading out of Glasshouse Country to a different area – this is loss of income of several thousand dollars for both the Sportsground our local economy,” Mrs Broderick concluded.
“Given that we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and our borders have opened
it is incredible that the Council are not moving heaven and earth, including contacting the Ministers Office to obtain his consent to have power linked to the users of Caravans,” Mr McArdle concluded.
The Beerwah Sportsground Management Committee’s Ultimate Goals include:
- To be permitted to offer power to the campers as required
- To continue as they always have, providing a place for tourists including Grey Nomads, Caravan Clubs and fund-raising road rally teams to rest for a few days
- Revised lease with correct designation of Grounds to Showgrounds and Recreation.