Food truck vendors upset by proposed council changes

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IRATE food truck vendors have lashed out at Cockburn’s controversial food truck policy, despite the City confirming it would not take effect until the middle of next year if approved.

Food truck operators set up shop outside council chambers before Thursday’s ordinary council meeting to protest the mooted program, which could control the makeup of vendors’ menus.

While the policy was not on Thursday night’s agenda, it did not stop angry vendors from packing out the public gallery and taking aim at the plan.

Food truck operators outside Cockburn’s council meeting.

Sweets on the Run owner Craig Brown said his ice cream van business would lose a significant scoop of business if the policy were approved.

“Why target us? We’re a small business,” he said.

“I support my wife and three kids and without my ice cream van, I don’t work.

“If I don’t go out in the van, my mortgage doesn’t get paid. I can’t modify my menu enough to be able to do, because my ice cream van don’t have the option to change its menu.”

Sarah Newitt helps her mother run Ye Olde Ice Cream Van, which she has owned for the past two decades.

“This is my mother’s livelihood. This is all she does,” she said.

City planning and development services director Daniel Arndt said if the policy was approved, it would not impact vendors during this summer.

Mr Arndt said staff were still working on the policy and if council gave it the green light at a future meeting, it would not impact any events run or funded by the City in the 2020 summer season.

The exception to that rule would be the flagship Coogee Live event, which receives $20,000 in Healthway funding on the stipulation they use vendors from the Healthways & WA Canteen Association Healthy Food Vendors Pilot Program list.

If council approves the policy, it would facilitate a ‘traffic light system’ which forced vendors to provide healthy food at events funded or run by the City.

The system would require menus to consist of at least 40 per cent ‘green’ options containing healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables and no more than 30 per cent ‘red’ options, such as deep fried food, chocolate or lollies.

Vendors would also be restricted to selling two sugary drink options and would not be allowed to display them.

Vic Park looks at ban

Meanwhile, the Town of Victoria Park appears set to ban mobile food vans because of local business opposition.

The council, which on Tuesday night considered outcomes of a workshop held with local businesses ahead of possibly a draft policy on August 20, is arguing that their introduction could be the “nail in the coffin” for already struggling bricks and mortar eateries.

Several businesses have closed recently along Albany Highway.

An officer’s report stated that the benefits for local residents supportive of food trucks at public spaces were not great enough to offset the impacts to local business confidence and customer trade.

“It is recommended that council no longer progress implementation of a trial of mobile food vending and that the current practice of allowing only temporary, events-associated trading remain,” the report said.

Speaking at the Town’s briefing session on Tuesday night, WA Mobile Food Vendors Association president Craig Mauger said while he sympathised with the struggling hospitality industry, there was no benefit from banning food trucks.

Craig Mauger.

“We’re not in competition to a traditional bricks and mortar store,” he said.

“I run a coffee truck so I can’t go anywhere near a coffee store, that is pretty common in all councils and I don’t have  a problem with that.

“My suggestion to council is that you have to look at areas where food trucks can operate where they aren’t in direct conflict with those on the main street.”

Mr Mauger said the food trucks that lined Beaufort Street during the week at the Inglewood Night Markets had helped revitalise local businesses.

“It is held on a Monday night which is traditionally dead for retail but now many shops will open on those nights because of the mobile vendors breathing new life into the area,” he said.

“Bricks and mortar establishments deserve protection because unlike us they can’t roll down the street but its not the right move to put an outright ban food trucks.”