MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council says it is not backing down from enforcing its new food truck policy, amid claims a mobile ice cream vendor in Safety Beach is being forced out of business.
Melbourne Ice Cream Van, which has traded for 24 years in and around Safety Beach, has started a petition calling on the council to “work out a fair resolution” to permit issues after being told its permit could be revoked.
The owner of the business – who does not want to be named – said community support was growing and more than 500 people had signed the petition within a few days of being posted online.
He said the family-run business had been a strong supporter of local sports clubs over the past 24 years, had a good relationship with residents and visitors, and was often involved in community events.
“All I’m asking for is a fair hearing, the [shire] CEO has not agreed to meet with me and I’m not getting a chance to discuss the unworkable elements of the permit,” the vendor said.
One of the biggest issues was that Marine Drive was now not within his approved trading areas, despite it being popular with customers.
“It’s been a hard business in recent years with COVID lockdowns, high petrol prices and constant threats from rogue unlicensed vendors. Against all that, we have worked really hard to try to make the business work,” he said.
“But taking this key location out of the permit makes it totally unworkable or profitable, we just want the chance to talk about it.”
The vendor says a council letter he received states the business must cease selling from the vehicle “or by any other means” in areas prohibited by its permit.
Failure to comply would come with a hefty fine and potentially more costs related to “further work” on the matter, the letter stated.
Many locals have been quick to support the popular roaming ice cream vendor, with some calling online for common sense and one saying roaming ice cream sellers are “as summer to me as Aeroguard, BBQ and Coconut Reef Tan oil”.
But council remains steadfast, saying the matter involved a “compliance” issue, and the policy was to ensure “trucks operated within their permit conditions”.
The mayor Cr Steve Holland said food trucks had a positive role to play on the peninsula, and that council last year adopted a food truck policy to “create a vibrant food truck experience at appropriate locations across the shire, where the community can gather and enjoy fresh local food”.
“The policy has clear and consistent guidelines to ensure a balance between the interests of the community, food truck operators and food outlets operating from bricks and mortar premises.”
While not commenting on specific businesses, Holland said part of the balance entailed taking action against those trucks operating illegally or outside their permit conditions.
He said the council was investigating a number of complaints regarding “unlawful itinerant trading” and would continue to monitor food trucks to ensure they have a permit and comply with their permit conditions.