PERTH councillors last night voted to wait until next year to review the City’s alfresco dining policies, despite local traders struggling in the current economic climate.
Councillor Jemma Green moved for a review of the regulations to begin this year, rather than in 2017, and for a six-month trial to be held during which traders could use pop up bars and other innovations for longer periods of time.
“It is my view that reviews are an appropriate process for considering changes in policy… it’s especially important that in this time of the economic cycle we do everything we can to encourage traders,” she said.
“Traders asked me not just to listen to them but also their suppliers. Vick Vistas in Morley has been supplying produce for 22 years, and said it has been the worst winter he has seen, that traders are haemorrhaging money and that the decline is accelerating. We have a duty to respond promptly.”
Deputy Lord Mayor James Limnios and Cr Reece Harley joined Cr Green in speaking in favour of the motion.
Only Cr Janet Davidson spoke against Cr Green’s plan, but was joined by councillors Lily Chen, Judy McEvoy, Jim Adamos and Keith Yong in voting to defeat it.
When Cr Green said she would like to hear Cr Yong’s views on the matter, Cr Yong declined to comment.
Universal Bar owner Trevor Candido, who attended the meeting, said he was disappointed by the refusal to embrace a six-month trial.
“It makes sense to do a trial of this nature,” he said.
“Food trucks were given the luxury of a six-month trial in the Perth area, yet bricks and mortar traders are not allowed to do the same.
“We were hoping to get something over the line to take advantage of this summer, especially in light of the 1000-person pop up that has been approved for PICA this summer.”
Urban Orchard will be running a temporary 1000-person venue in Northbridge for eight weeks over November and December.
For the Melbourne Cup, Universal Bar got a one-day permit to run an outdoor bar.
“We asked if we could do something similar one day a week, the City of Perth said no. Once a week is 52 days spread over the year, and the 1000-person pop up will be allowed to run for 56 days,” Mr Candido said.
The Northbridge veteran said the delayed review would potentially mean two summers of innovation lost to local traders.
“By their own admission the (review) process won’t be completed until at least the end of 2017, if not early 2018… We already went through one summer (2015-16) not being allowed to do it,” he said.
In June, when the council first voted to look at the rules, Australian Hotels Association (WA) chief executive Bradley Woods said it was “disappointing” and “concerning” that the State Government was using food vans and pop-up venues “as a way of activating some spaces… at the same time they’re trying to attract full-time tenants into those spaces”.
Mr Woods said “relaxing the rules” to allow full-time hospitality venues, bars and pubs to be able to mix drinks serve drinks, prepare drinks and dispense drinks in alfresco areas made “perfect sense”.
In October, Mr Woods said the AHA supported the City’s plan to conduct a review of alfresco regulations in 2017.
Asked about timing, an AHA(WA) spokeswoman said, “we don’t have a comment at this stage on the timeframe for the review or on council process”.