Shock as mobile trade fees set to treble

By John Cousins

3 comments
Mr Whippy mobile trader Nicholas Wynne is leading a campaign against a hike in proposed council charges. Photo/John Borren
Mr Whippy mobile trader Nicholas Wynne is leading a campaign against a hike in proposed council charges. Photo/John Borren

Tauranga mobile shop traders are "shocked and bewildered" the city council wants to more than treble their annual licence fee.

"There is going to be a lot of p***** off people," Coffee Guy franchisee Michael Baxter told the Bay of Plenty Times after learning the council planned to hike his fee from $226 to $750.

Mr Baxter and other mobile traders spoken to yesterday have vowed to oppose the increase through the public feedback process to the council's draft 2014-15 Annual Plan.

"I am shocked and bewildered," Mr Baxter said.

Everyone was stunned by the size of the increase, demanding to know how the council could justify a $524 rise in the fee.

Their annual Food Hygiene Regulations registration fee will also go up by $5 to $390.

"What benefit will we get in return, or is it another revenue gathering exercise like the bald tyres?" Mr Baxter asked.

Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout said the increase would take the fee up to what some other councils were charging. "We also wanted to take pressure off ratepayers and be mindful that a lot of other existing retailers had legitimate concerns about mobile vendors when they were there all year round paying rates."

Acting environmental services manager Rebecca Perrett said the councils included Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Wellington. The increase also reflected the costs incurred to monitor mobile shops and process applications.

Nicholas Wynne who runs a Mr Whippy van said he was mobilising his fellow traders to protest the increase.

"It is a disgrace and extortion," Mr Wynne said.

Comparing their 232 per cent increase with the nearly 350 per cent reduction in the consent fee for a new brothel, he said: "I am in the wrong business, I should be opening a brothel."

He highlighted the mistake last year when the council failed to notify mobile traders who were "new kids on the block" about a rule change in which they had to move on every 15 minutes. The communications botch up forced one woman to sell her business while others were left thousands of dollars out of pocket from the trade restriction.

Jackson Maynard, of Billys mobile food and coffee shop, said it was becoming increasingly difficult to continue trading.

He said everything was going backwards for mobile traders. "In one breath the council goes from one hour to 15 minutes [park up] and in the next breath they put up the licence fees."

He has just added a coffee van to his business in order to fit the 15 minute park-up restriction, only to be lumbered with $750 licensing fee. "To put up the fees like that and offer nothing in return is just ridiculous. A few sole product vendors that are struggling to make a living will be put out of business."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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