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A man issued a move on directive after he was planning to sleep inside his registered van on a suburban street has questioned the double standards of a council.
Posting on Facebook page Van Life Australia, Gold Coast resident Mark Pemberton, 54, told the 64,000 plus members he was fortunate not to receive a $680 fine earlier this week after trying to sleep in his van.
He then questioned how countless other people sleeping rough in Surfers Paradise are left alone by workers employed by Gold Coast City Council – unlike van owners who are seemingly targeted at night.
‘I’m so angry,’ Mr Pemberton fumed on Facebook.
‘Last Tuesday I parked in a very quiet spot at around 8pm on the Gold Coast. Then by 10.50pm the council came round.
‘They were very nice, but told me it was a $680 fine for sleeping in the street in a van and that I had to move.
Gold Coast resident Mark Pemberton was baffled after he was issued a move on directive from where he was planning to sleep inside his registered van this week in a suburban street
The former business executive has embraced ‘van life’ and told Daily Mail Australia it is becoming a way of life for many Australian residents
His Facebook post on the page Van Life generated plenty of discussion on social media – the post has since been deleted by admin
‘Now the thing is, I live in a unit at Surfers Paradise… I was in the van for various (personal) reasons.
‘I see the homeless people drunk, swearing, begging and sleeping in the street on a daily basis,’ he explained.
‘I also see a guy I won’t name.. he is semi-famous and walks around in a (pink) bikini and sleeps in the street cuddling a teddy.
‘I am very liberal and this is not about what choices others make. It is about the Council who feel it is OK to let a 60 year old man in a bikini with his ass hanging out and his balls in a pouch walk around kids – but I can’t sleep down a dark street in a registered vehicle?
‘This is ridiculous. This is not about an individual, this is about the stupidity of the Council.’
The former business executive, who is currently unemployed, once commanded a salary of $200,000.
The pandemic and other personal circumstances has seen Mr Pemberton ‘lose everything’, but he wanted to stress his gripe was about what he deems as hypocrisy from Gold Coast City Council.
‘My van is registered and roadworthy and was also legally parked on a street in Paradise Point,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I was close to falling asleep and all of a sudden I had two people employed by Gold Coast City Council shine a torch into my van.
‘I explained my situation and I will say they were sympathetic.. but I was told I had to move on elsewhere.
‘I understand they are doing their job, but surely the Council could focus on other issues at hand?
‘Covid has resulted in many more people across Australia living in their vans out of necessity… more and more vans are popping up and on the Gold Coast there are limited places for those living the ‘van life.’
The 54-year-old also rents a unit on the Gold Coast and was looking to sleep in his van for personal reasons
Mr Pemberton often posts stories and photos from his life in the van on his Facebook page Herc The Merc
The van enthusiast insists living in a van and exploring the world is a great way to live (pictured, Mr Pemberton’s partner)
‘I think the Council should address issues such as homelessness and mental health, not people minding their own business in a registered van.’
Mr Pemberton has previously lived out a van when travelling through Europe.
He is convinced it is the lifestyle for him and encouraged others to follow his path.
‘After my personal dramas, ‘van life’ was great for mental health,’ he said.
‘I understand it isn’t for everyone, but in my eyes it is a great opportunity to see the world differently.’
IS IT LEGAL TO LIVE IN A VAN IN AUSTRALIA?
It is not illegal to live in a van in Australia, but you must park in designated areas and comply with local regulations in states and territories:
For example on the Gold Coast, you are only permitted to sleep in your car if you are in an area where it is legal to camp, such as a public camp site or designated rest area.
Other regulations to adhere to include:
- You will not live in a van in Australia on private land for more than 30 days
- You should not pay a licence fee, rent or any other fee if renting private land
- You have access to toilet facilities and you do not dispose inappropriately of the wastewater
- Vans must be parked at least 6 meters away from the front of the property and at least 1.2 meters away from the side of a building (if there is one).
- The land where the van is parked must not be an official residential zone
- You can live full-time in a van at a campsite, as long as you have a contract
Source: Daily Mail