Mobile traders hopping mad

The Fish Van’s operator Jeff Rouse with the petition that amassed more than 600 signatures in just three days, supporting the continued presence of mobile traders by Victoria Square.

A proposed change in council bylaws which would affect mobile traders has come as something of a shock for the roadside businesses, some of which have become well-established in Cambridge.

One of these businesses is the Fish Van, which has been permitted to park by Victoria Square for eight years now. The van’s owner, Jeff Rouse, is particularly upset that nobody from council has come to speak with him about the proposed change, which would see a ban placed on mobile traders within a radius of the CBD.

“I have not seen anybody from council, no-one has been near me. I just renewed my licence to trade with council (on July 1),” Jeff said.

Running the fish van from 9am to 5.15pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, Jeff reckons he gets between 250 – 300 customers daily turning up to buy fish, with more coming all the time.

And the mobile trader’s customers are not pleased about this latest turn of events, either, with a petition amassing more than 600 signatures in just three days. Jeff said he has also been handing out submission forms, encouraging people to have their say with council.

Also throwing his weight behind the mobile merchants is Cambridge Community Board member Roger Gordon, who has put in a submission to council in favour of letting them remain – in a limited capacity. Roger’s submission sought to change the draft bylaw from banning mobile traders on Victoria St from Wilson St to Queen St, which covers the town square, to restricting them on Victoria St from Wilson St to Alpha St, which doesn’t.

Roger would like to see a section of Victoria St designated as a mobile traders’ facility, restricted to three bays, with each bay a suitable size to take a caravan such as the Fish Van.

He also suggested that produce for sale be limited to food and beverages, which would count out businesses such as the vaping caravan, which has appeared by the square of late.

Bryan Hudson, Manager – Road Corridor at Waipa District Council said the move to restrict the traders was based around safety concerns. “Mobile traders provide a great service to our towns, but we need to make sure they are operating in areas that are safe for both customers and road users. We’re proposing to restrict mobile traders from areas that are unsafe such as being too close to an intersection or near popular areas where parking spots are at a premium.

“This stage is all about gaining feedback, so we want as much of this as possible to give to the mayor and councillors before they make their final decision,” Bryan explained.

“We (council) got in touch with the owner of the Fish Van a couple of weeks ago with information about the consultation, and my understanding is he has also had a conversation with our Transportation Engineer who manages mobile trader permits,” he added.

Consultation closed on Friday, July 20.

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