Food van fury overcouncil trading ban

Sophia ConstantineNorth West Telegraph

Popular food trucks setting up shop at Dreamers Corner in South Hedland were last week told to pack up and leave the area for seven days, with claims they were in breach of council policy.

The Town of Port Hedland says its trading in public places policy states no more than three vendors at a time can use the nominated sites.

Mayor Camilo Blanco said food vans operating in the area, on the corner of North Circular and Hamilton roads, had been in breach of the policy.

They had been unable to resolve the issue themselves and the council had been forced to step in and ban all vans from the area until a resolution could be found, he said. But many traders branded the policy unfair and said the loss of a week’s income had hit them hard.

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Ando’s Kebabs manager Don Kanishka, who has been operating in the area for more than five years, said he was disappointed to be told to stop trading for a full week.

Mr Kanishka said he respected the council’s limit on foods vans but believed it was unfair those who had been there the longest had to suffer.

“I have always been first or second to arrive for almost six years to trade at this spot and we have never had to change our location,” he said. “Vans that normally trade in Port Hedland have come to this spot and don’t respect the council.”

Putri’s food van owner Rapie Bilda said the loss of seven days of income had had a significant impact on his business. Mr Bilda suggested the council review its policy instead of handing out more trade licences.

“We’ve tried everywhere but other areas are so quiet, which means we are not getting a sustainable income,” he said.

“Dreamers is the only place that we have received really good business.”

Mr Bilda said there was a high level of competition in the area and vans often arrived on-site as early as 5am to secure a spot.

He said the area often looked like it had been transformed into a food market, which people enjoyed.

Mr Blanco said while a “first come, first served” policy had previously applied, the issue had since been resolved with the introduction of a new schedule between the vendors, which would allow for each van to be allocated time at different locations around the town without breaching any policies.

“If disputes arise that cannot be resolved by vendors and the town is called in to adjudicate, a report will go to council recommending a cessation of all licences involved in the dispute until the matter is resolved,” he said.

“The policy exists because there needs to be a balance between the presence of food vans, who do not have overheads such as rates and rent, and established food vendors, such as restaurants, cafes, who do have these overheads.”

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