Angst over food van nod

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenMidwest Times
Feijoa Catchick with her husband Matt and their daughter Greyer, 1.
Camera IconFeijoa Catchick with her husband Matt and their daughter Greyer, 1.

The Shire of Mingenew has defended its decision to allow a non-resident to operate a new food truck in the town in the face of existing business owners claiming they are struggling.

At the Shire’s ordinary council meeting on December 16, Mingenew Hotel and Motel owner Adrian Burns and Mingenew Bakery owners Chris and Sarah Gammon questioned the council on its decision the month prior to approve Port Denison woman Feijoa Catchick’s Wild Side Coffee van.

Mr Burns said he was disappointed the council did not elect to put the proposal out for public consultation first and that the business owner did not live in Mingenew. He said he was concerned his business would be negatively impacted, particularly during the peak tourist season, due to the additional competition. Mr Burns added he didn’t feel it was fair the van was not subject to rates and service charges like a “bricks and mortar” business.

Mr Gammon told the meeting the Mingenew Bakery was struggling during the quiet season and he was concerned about the impact of the van in low-peak times.

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He said he and his wife were also of the view the council should have consulted with potentially affected business owners.

It was noted at the meeting Leah Eardley, the owner of the Mingenew Roadhouse, had also written to the Shire regarding the appro-val of the mobile coffee and food van.

Mingenew Shire president Gary Cosgrove told Mr Burns public consultation on the matter was not legislatively required but accepted that it could have been given greater consideration in this case.

He said the proposal was made under planning legislation and the decision could not be influenced by other matters, including the applicant’s place of residence, commercial viability or market competition.

The approval for the mobile food and coffee van included conditions such as restricted operating hours for the town-centre location when the bakery and roadhouse were operating.

The application is subject to an annual licence fee of $275, while the commercial properties where the van would operate both pay council rates.

The approval was granted for a 12-month trial period, with council to review the operations internally every three months.

Cr Cosgrove said the Shire was also in the process of developing a new local law which would govern similar applications in the future

Cr Caroline Farr left the meeting during the discussion due to an impartiality interest. She is the mother of Ms Catchick and the owner of the Mingenew Spring Caravan Park where the van had also been approved to operate.

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