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REVEALED: Jay's plans to cut councils' food truck control

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The Weatherill Government could take control of food trucks regulation from local councils and allow mobile vendors to operate in train stations across the state, InDaily can exclusively reveal.

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Food trucks battle

The Government’s food trucks regulation discussion paper suggests a series of interventions to help boost the mobile food vending industry and cut local councils out of its regulation.

These include a “consistent” permits scheme across the state that “would essentially remove the ability of councils to regulate most aspects of food truck operation”.

“The Government believes that it is essential that we do what we can to support food truck ventures; that we ensure an entrepreneurial activity is not handicapped by unnecessarily complex and changing regulation,” the paper says.

It proposes: “a provision in the Local Government Act … requiring councils to act reasonably to support food trucks [and] ensure that councils not set unreasonable permit conditions”.

“While it is not proposed that mobile food vendors should operate without regulation, it is clear that this inconsistent approach creates uncertainties for vendors and may hamper new investment in a service that can bring interest and vitality to our urban areas.

“… while individual councils would retain an ability to issue permits, these permits would need to comply with conditions set within the regulations.

“This ‘single permit’ option will require significant resourcing to enable this body to both issue permits and manage compliance.

“It is clear that there may be an opportunity to provide a more consistent approach to the issuing of permits to food trucks, simplifying this process for both vendors and councils, and providing greater certainty to people wishing to invest in this business opportunity.”

The Government is also suggesting “significant pieces” of state-owned land, including “over 80 train stations and over 70 Park ‘n’ Ride locations” could be used to “support greater business for food trucks” and “one-off” payments could be made by the Government to reduce the cost of registering food-vending vehicles.

A small number of coffee carts have licences through the State Government to operate at train stations and Park ‘n’ Rides.

In addition, the Government could “sponsor a ‘trial truck’ for prospective businesses to use over a short period to test a business idea, menus and marketing”.

The truck could be “regularly cycled through different new entrepreneurs, testing new ideas in the market”.

According to the paper, the new permits scheme would allow mobile food vendors to operate “at a reasonable annual cost”, “during reasonable hours (for example 10am to 2pm)”, have “location guidelines that are consistent across all council areas” and trade without “excessive restraints on the type of food they can sell”.

The State Government scheme would specify a maximum number of food truck permits, mobile vendor trading hours (outside of special events), a maximum cost for permits, relevant safety standards and location guidelines, including defined distances from schools and from established businesses selling similar products.

However, “specific locations that food trucks can utilise” within council areas would remain under local control.

The revelations follow repeated threats by Premier Jay Weatherill to intervene in the regulation of food trucks following moves by Adelaide City Council – which first established the city food trucks industry – to increase fees and restrictions on mobile vendors.

Established city businesses have argued that, despite the small impact on total lunchtime revenue reaped by food trucks in the CBD, some small businesses have suffered significant lost business as a result of their presence.

In a foreword to the discussion paper, Weatherill writes that “I want to see a future for food trucks where there is balance in the market place and consistency across councils throughout the state”.

“In a world where we must continue to compete internationally on the strength of our lifestyle, food trucks present another attraction to add to our charm,” he writes.

“Food trucks bring a vibrant energy and fresh life to our city.

“We’ve seen the fantastic results of State Government initiatives such as removing restrictions for small bar licences…

“Food trucks could offer a similar chance to make a small change that can have a big impact on the vibrancy of our city.”

The paper also suggests that legislation could be changed to remove “duplication” of food truck health inspections by various agencies, and that the Government could establish and maintain an “Adelaide Street Food” website to promote the industry.

Consultation on the options in the discussion paper closes in mid-January.

You can give your feedback here.

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