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"No food trucks except Mr Whippy": Govt slams council red tape

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A State Government audit of food truck regulations across council areas has laid bare a tangle of red tape, with vast discrepancies between the types of permits available and fees ranging from $230 to $2500.

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The snapshot compares regulations across six metropolitan councils, with no two of them offering the same trading conditions for mobile food vendors.

Labor MP Chris Picton told InDaily there was “no consistency whatsoever between council areas”.

“If you’re looking to have a food truck, you’d have no idea how to tackle different council permits,” he said.

“Should you want to operate between council areas, it would be nigh on impossible.”

As InDaily revealed on Friday, Picton has overseen a Weatherill Government discussion paper proposing the state takes control of regulating the industry across council areas.

He says the audit of metro councils confirms the impetus for such a move.

It reveals:

Port Adelaide Enfield mayor Gary Johanson said ice cream trucks were “different because they can be mobile whereas a food truck would be in a central location”.

“Unless you’ve got people walking past all the time it would be hard (to do business, because) as much as we’d like to think the Port is alive, from a point of view of walking traffic it’s not really good unless there’s a major event,” he said.

“At the moment it would be hard to justify how a food truck would make a long-term income.”

However, he also suggested mobile vendors could cause headaches for established businesses.

“If they were to apply, we’d be happy to look at them (but) personally I have concerns about food trucks because our regular operators – the bricks and mortar businesses – are paying rates, hiring staff and everything else … it’s quite an expensive exercise,” he said.

“I know it’s not easy for a lot of vendors – times are tough (and) it would be difficult for them to compete with a mobile (vendor) without the same sort of overheads.”

He said he had “no problem” with the State Government taking over regulation across the metro area, “as long as they use the powers wisely”.

Picton said he wanted to ensure “councils have consistent guidelines”.

He said the Local Government Act gave individual councils the right to set their own rules, but in some cases “it’s more about regulation of Mr Whippy’s and things like that, rather than new food trucks”.

The Government survey compared each jurisdiction with Vancouver in Canada, where the local council expects to issue around 150 permits for street food vending by next year, with a $1161 permit fee.

“We want to encourage more and more people to start businesses and end the confusion, both in the CBD and the broader metro area,” Picton said.

“We’re very serious about taking some action here, but we didn’t want to jump into something without talking to people first…I think there’s very real interest from both traders and the broader community to make sure we sort this issue out.”

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