Mobile Traders – Good or Bad?

In today’s business climate how we provide services to the public, raises a level of discussion particularly in relation to those who are deemed to be mobile vendors, said Mr Ron Hay, President of the Whyalla Chamber.

There will always be points for and against in all cases, however there are some fundamental issues and provisions that need to be considered by both those who are operating within these parameters and those who administer it.

Mr Hay said, it is not every type of business that may have the opportunity to be ‘mobile’, for want of a better description, but if the type of business allows itself to operate within this framework, then they can do so, as long as there is compliance to those policies and regulations of the day, for managing such situations.

Compliance in my view is not only on the part of the business, but also the governing body, who is responsible for such administration of this sector. In such cases these may be Government agencies or Local Government (Council).

It is fair to say said Mr Hay, that there are generally a number of conditions that need to be satisfied on the part of all parties, before permission is granted, for a mobile vendor to operate.

Depending on the administering authority, a mobile vendor would have the right to apply for permission to ‘trade’ within a certain period of time and from a particular position.

The type of business that they are operating, would then come under certain regulations and conditions, that govern that type of ‘industry’ that they operate within, said Mr Hay.

If you go back quite a few years in the history within Whyalla, there used to be a number of mobile traders within the community, a couple being the hot food caravan at the beach and a fruit and veg cart in the main street. In those days, you would see quite a number of people down the beach late at night, purchasing their hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks.

They were patronised and popular in those days and served a purpose within the community.

Mr Hay said, if we bring this thinking back to the current time frame, then the same situation exists. That is mobile traders can provide a service and potentially fill the ‘gap’ when similar outlets have closed for the evening for example.

However, I believe the issues arise when you have traders that are allowed to ‘set up shop’ for very short periods of time, in areas that may create increased levels of traffic, generate safety concerns and by way of no formal ‘policing’ create an inability to possibly satisfy the required regulations or guidelines for example.

With this in mind said Mr Hay, we potentially now see the other side of the coin. The possible issues that may arise here are that some may operate within an area not designated for any type of trade, it may increase the traffic to that area along with associated parking issues and they may be trading within a reasonable vicinity of an existing business, which is already providing a service.

This is where it is the responsibility of our Council to be responsible and accountable for managing the correct policies and procedures for mobile vendors. Interestingly, I read that the Whyalla City Council has now commented on the development of a Mobile Vendor Policy for the community.

As a Chamber, we will certainly have a look at this, to see that it manages this situation appropriately and how regulations and conditions will be adhered to, so that unfair advantages are not in adversely generated, where our members are concerned.

Mr Hay said, the statement made by Council concerning the development of the policy, is encouraging as it make reference to the Whyalla Foreshore area, thus providing some opportunities to make greater use of the area, for not only those in our community, but also visitors and tourists, for example.

So the question, are mobile trades good or bad? At the end of the day, various businesses, organizations and the public will always differ in their opinions. However each will feel they are ‘right’ because of their beliefs and that will never change.

However, if we get it right said Mr Hay, we can manage it in a way that benefits everyone. The future will deliver the answer.

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