By Anthony Templeton | The Australian
Under the proposal, to be debated at the council’s Economic and Community Development Committee next Tuesday, the number of food truck permits would be reduced to 30, down from the current maximum of 40.
The price of permits would also increase to $2200 per year, which could be paid in one transactions or monthly instalments.
The proposed new rules would allow 20 regular operators to acquire a food truck permit, with five reserved for bricks-and-mortar businesses at no fee and a further five slated for entrepreneurs who will receive a 50 per cent discount.
The current system has a range of different permits depending on the time of trade allowed and the season, with prices ranging from $100 for ten days of trading through to $1000 to open for six months during the summer.
The proposed new rules come after raging debate between food truck operators and bricks-and-mortar businesses — since shortly after the program commenced in 2013 — and an extensive community consultation process, which started in July and attracted nearly 1000 responses.
Bricks-and-mortar businesses claim food trucks have been given an unfair advantage because of the comparatively small fees they pay to operate when compared to the costs of operating a cafe or restaurant.
Despite the controversy, the introduction of food trucks in 2013 has been credited with helping revitalise the CBD and making the city a more vibrant place to live and work
Deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad said the proposed changes struck a good balance between promoting entrepreneurship and protecting existing city businesses.
“It’s important to note this is a pilot program and we are making changes to get the balance right,” he said.
“We don’t want to do anything that would impact on the city’s vibrancy but we also need to make it an even playing field for those existing businesses that are also ratepayers.”
Under the proposed changes, more food trucks would be able to set up within the city’s squares — up to six vendors at once instead of three — but in other areas restrictions from trading within 25 metres of a other hospitality business would be maintained. That restriction would increase to 50 metres for food trucks selling the same items as an existing business within the area.
Burger Theory is one of the city’s food truck success stories, with the business opening a bricks-and-mortar premises as a result of its initial success, and co-owner Rob Dean said the council’s proposed changes appeared reasonable.
“There is an increase in the fees but the ability to pay them in instalments will make a big difference,” he said.
“The (permit) system needs to get simplified and it’s really important food trucks will still be allowed to set up in the city’s squares.”
Restaurant and Catering Australia deputy chief executive Sally Neville said the proposed changes would help to settle the dispute between food trucks and bricks-and-mortar businesses.
“They have listened to us about reducing the number of permits and offering them yearly because the seasonal system really encouraged food trucks to be more of a cottage industry rather then professional businesses,” she said.
Originally published as Brakes being applied on food trucks