Meander Valley Council approve food van policy

Sailor Food Van staff at Deloraine
Sailor Food Van staff at Deloraine

A food van policy has been described as a “necessary evil” by a Meander Valley Councillor where it was approved by councillors.

Food vans will be required to pay an annual fee of $163.50 for a permit on all council-owned land. 

In guidelines that will form part of the policy, a 200 metre ban from permanent food businesses would also be put in place, unless the shop owner agreed with closer operation. The guidelines are yet to be released to the public, but were mentioned at the meeting.

Councillor Andrew Connor said food vans had been popular for some time and other councils have policies for the vans.

“Meander Valley is just playing catch up. It’s so that staff can make informed decisions about the vans, it’s necessary evil,” he said. 

“Other councils are already doing this and some have annual fees of $2000.”

Councillor Bob Richardson moved the original motion to create a food van policy in 2017. On Tuesday Cr Richardson moved an amendment to review the policy in 2019, rather than 2022, because it was a “new thing”. 

Councillor Tanya King, who did not support the policy when it was first touted, admitted it was a good framework for where the vans could and could not go. 

While Councillor Deb White said she understood shop owner concerns because they “would receive a smaller piece of the pie”, she said food vans could also bring more benefits to the region. 

Permanent businesses were more loyal to local communities, Councillor John Temple said, rather than vans that could “cherry-pick” the best times to operate their businesses.

Councillor Rodney Synfield voted against the motion and said the policy did not go “deep enough” in covering issues like food vans operating on Crown land. 

However, Cr Connor said the policy was “just sensible”. 

“It’s just something different for people. We welcome food vans to Meander Valley,” he said. Councillor Ian Mackenzie also voted against the motion.