Restrictions on mobile trading in Dunedin are to be
relaxed, although the council has warned it will be looking for
mobile traders to pay their fair share of trading costs, as
fixed businesses do.
That those costs could be shared fairly with fixed-premises
businesses that pay commercial rates was the principal
reservation of city councillors, who yesterday voted to adopt
the mobile trading and temporary stall bylaw 2014.
The new bylaw, the result of five months' consideration by a
council subcommittee, will take effect from May 5, and is
expected to result in an increase in mobile trading in the
It removes an anti-competitive clause in the existing bylaw
that prevents mobile traders from operating within 300m of
premises selling like-kind products, which effectively rules
out much of the city for many food traders.
The new bylaw also makes six leased sites available to mobile
traders, subject to permission from the council.
The sites are two each in the Museum Reserve, the Octagon
beside the carriageway and Wickliffe Square at the Exchange.
The Wickliffe Square sites are restricted to carts or
trailers weighing less than a tonne, otherwise they could
cause the ground above the underground toilets beneath the
square to collapse.
Mobile traders are celebrating the decision to remove the
clause, which means they can operate, on a first-come basis,
anywhere outside George St, Moray Pl, the Octagon and the
north end of Princes St.
''It's a huge advance for mobile trading. It's very, very
good,'' mobile trader Kim Morgan said after yesterday's
The bylaw was voted in as an interim measure while the
council works on a broader bylaw for commercial and community
use of public spaces.
It will also consider how to equitably apportion city
operational costs across fixed and mobile traders.
It is not clear how long that work will take, although
council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose indicated it would be
some time before staff were free to advance it.
Bylaw hearings subcommittee members, chairman Cr Andrew Noone
and Crs Jinty MacTavish and Hilary Calvert, said reviewing
the bylaw had been a mammoth task.
The new bylaw took a more positive approach and was based on
the principles that mobile trading added character and
vibrancy to the city's public places, provided services at
times and places they might not otherwise be available,
improved public safety and provided an affordable entry point
and testing ground for business start-ups, they said in a
report to the council.
Cr MacTavish told her colleagues the subcommittee was not
legally able to consider things like charging mobile traders'
fees commensurate with fixed traders' rates, because under
the Local Government Act, the requirement was for a bylaw to
focus only on protecting health and safety, minimising
potential for offensive behaviour and protecting the public
That was why the recommendation was to draft a broader bylaw.
Cr Richard Thomson said he supported it because the existing
bylaw held back vibrancy, diversity and interest on the
But he and Crs Kate Wilson, Chris Staynes and Andrew Whiley
all expressed concerns about mobile traders being allowed to
compete with fixed traders, who had to pay rates to operate
their businesses in the city.
''That is an inequity we need to take a closer look at,'' Cr
''Every sale [mobile traders] get, they take away from a
fixed trader and over time this is a threat to fixed
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull acknowledged the bylaw was set within
a very constrained legal framework.
''But the most important thing is that this is heading
towards an enabling bylaw that looks at what kind of streets
we want in this city, and how we can control them.''
Cr Noone said the subcommittee had grappled with the same
issues their colleagues were raising, but felt they had done
their homework and a fair trading environment would be
achieved, in time.
''It'll be a better city for it in the long run.''
Mrs Morgan said she expected councillors to raise the rates
issue. She said many mobile traders already paid commercial
rates, as they also required commercial kitchens for their
She also noted research showed concerns about mobile traders
taking business from fixed traders, or fixed traders going
mobile because it was cheaper, were wrong and, in fact,
increasing mobile trading created more business, improving
''It's enabling business, rather than prohibiting it.''