Despite this, the coffee cart owner is crying foul because he wanted to trade in the weekends. And who is he blaming for not getting what he wanted? That’s right, you guessed it, the Local Board. First, let’s look at some facts and secondly, I want to look at the wider implications of the current by-laws.
Who grants street trading licenses on Waiheke? Auckland Council officers in town. There are no delegations to local boards on regulatory matters like street trading. There are up to 25 applications for street trading licenses each year.
What is the role of local boards? Minimal - The parks spokespersons/portfolio holders on the local boards are asked for their input when the trader is applying to operate on Council park land and this is only as the landowner. Even then, all local boards have adopted delegation protocols, which delegate this function to officers (in the case of Waiheke, the Parks Advisor, Gary Wilton), who is required to merely ‘consult’ with parks spokesperson/portfolio holders (Faye and Jim). It is Parks Advisor, Gary Wilton, who then makes the landowner recommendation to the Council Licensing officers.
Why does the application process need to be stream-lined or fast tracked? The Board parks spokespersons do not have to make this feedback themselves. They can refer street trading applications to an open Board agenda for consideration by the full Board and this is what the Board Chairperson is now recommending. It does add time to the process and is not the preferred option of Council officers but it is the only way the Local Board can invite a wider discussion on the matter. ALL interested parties can then have their say in public forum.
Should there be a wider public debate about whether or not we want a proliferation of street traders on Waiheke? Yes, I think so. This process being undertaken by Council officers, away from public scrutiny, is apparently resulting in a proliferation of street trading across the region, potentially affecting the viability of permanent rent and rate paying commercial businesses. I want to hear what the public thinks about this issue. Some shop owners have told me that their businesses are adversely affected by street traders so it’s only right, in my view, that their voice should be heard.
A few of the issues for the wider community to debate?
- Is it fair and equitable for commercial traders to operate from publicly owned park land at no (or subsidised) rent?
- Is it fair and equitable to give private businesses ratepayer subsidised licenses instead of charging a commercial rent?
- Does this ratepayer subsidy give a competitive advantage to street traders?
- Are local shop owners, who are ratepayers themselves, put out of business by unfair competition from street traders?
- Is an island of street traders the look we want for Waiheke?
- Should it be Council officers who make these vital decisions affecting our local economy or should it be for your locally elected representatives?
One last question for you. What is the 6 monthly license fee for a coffee cart?