MOBILE food vending trucks may soon be allowed back on to Newcastle streets under a trial to be considered by Newcastle council.
The trucks have become popular in Sydney with several seeking to operate in Newcastle. But their plan came unstuck when previous laws were dumped and new applicants were left in limbo while the bureaucrats worked on a new policy.
The issue came to a head in September when the Herald reported the plight of several operators twisted up in red tape while others were allowed to operate under the previous law.
Labor councillors have made formal moves to bring the matter before Tuesday’s council meeting, asking for the formulation of a new policy to be sped up and to provide temporary licences to those seeking to trade in the meantime.
Among those operating legally in Newcastle is the popular Harry’s schnitzel truck, but the likes of El Loco Poco, a Mexican food canteen linked to Newcastle restaurant Casa de Loco, are locked out because their applications are in limbo.
Labor councillor Nuatali Nelmes said mobile food vending vehicles ‘‘encourage diversity in takeaway food options at under-provided locations and times’’ such as beaches where there were no cafes. Her submission said such trucks ‘‘contribute to city revitalisation by creating temporary clusters of activity that enliven public spaces’’.
‘‘Flexibility and understanding changes in how local businesses operate is vitally important to ensure council can accommodate and nurture small business,’’ she said.
Council staff, however, said they were close to finalising a plan, which would achieve what the Labor councillors sought. A council report said a draft policy was close to being finalised and would allow mobile vendors to apply for an interim licence and operate at least until a formal policy was adopted.
‘‘The operation of mobile food vending vehicles is a potential cause for concern for other food businesses and for sporting and community organisations that generate funding from food sales,’’ the report said, adding that the draft sought to strike a balance between competing interests.