The City of Launceston council received only one expression of interest for a Brisbane Street Mall food van trial due to take place this month, with an informal petition signed by more than 30 city food businesses opposed to the idea forwarded to councillors.
Council opened expressions of interest in early January for vendors to be involved in the month-long trial in an attempt to “activate” the recently refurbished mall space.
At the February 7 council meeting, Councillor Alan Harris asked general manager Michael Stretton for an update on the progress of the trial, initially expected to take place for four weeks throughout February.
Mr Stretton said one response had been received to the expressions of interest call, with the details of their commencement date still being worked through.
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“I don’t think we’re far away from having that start but I’ll inform the council as soon as we’re able,” Mr Stretton added. The ability to supplement that with a second van had been discussed at a council workshop the week prior.
Submitted by Robin Smith of Coffee Republic, the informal petition states the 36 signing businesses do not support the council’s proposal to locate food vans or tents within the mall.
“I went to the closest ones, within about one block,” Mr Smith told The Examiner. “We’ve looked at [food vans] before. I’ve worked in the mall for 20 years now.
“How would Optus feel if I pulled a cart outside them selling Vodafone sim cards? To say to Coffee Republic, ‘don’t worry, we wont be selling coffee in the mall’, we sell other things as well.”
The trial would inform a council decision on the matter, taking into account community engagement.
But a number of food businesses outside of the mall have said this should have occurred before it went to trial, and are concerned about the potential impact on their trading.
Responding to a public question from Mr Smith at the February 7 council meeting about community engagement prior to the trial, Mr Stretton said the major projects department had “engaged” with Brisbane Street Mall traders and Cityprom, with councillors advised in December.
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