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Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013
Savannah Galvin
UNHAPPY CUSTOMER: Savannah Galvin of BizKidz business Savilicious Creations at the market before she was closed down by the Auckland Council. An 800-signature petition is presented on Thursday.

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"Let the children bake."

That's the message from BizKids at The Plaza shopping mall in Whangaparaoa to mayor Len Brown and the Auckland Council.

Around 20 young entrepreneurs in the business initiative had their food stalls banned in August after someone raised concerns about food hygiene.

Mr Brown waded into the debate just before the last local body elections saying he was certain a solution for the stalls could be found.

"This is a great local initiative that teaches kids about teamwork, enterprise and community involvement. It's something we need to be encouraging," he said at the time.

But father of two BizKids Brent Robinson says nothing ever happened.

He wants the mayor and council to show some Christmas spirit and exempt the BizKids at The Plaza from the restrictions.

Environmental health officers continue to block children selling home baking, he says.

"Many people have been led to believe that this issue has been resolved, given what the mayoral office stated to Campbell Live and the newspapers.

"But The Plaza, BizKids Team, and myself were advised, within a day of the mayor's statement, by environmental health, and the mayor's office, that low risk foods such as biscuits, cakes and fudge, are not, and will not, be allowed. And nothing has changed."

More than 800 people have signed a petition asking the council to exempt the children's baking under Section 10 (7) of the Auckland Council Food Safety Bylaw.

It states: "Where an environmental health officer is satisfied that compliance with any requirements of this bylaw or any control made by the council for food stalls would be unreasonable or impractical having regard to the type of food that is to be sold, or the method of packaging, an exemption may be granted in whole or part with such modifications as are desirable in the circumstances."

BizKids organiser Christina Galvin says parents are unhappy with the changes - and the person who dobbed BizKidz in.

Most parents involved say they have seen their children work and co-operate together and learn important lessons from running their own business, she says.

"Once the changes to the food came into effect, we found that our stall numbers went from around 30 stalls a month to about 14.

"This 50 per cent decrease is 100 per cent due to the fact that our kids can no longer bake biscuits, make fudge, sell cupcakes and toffee apples."

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Although a large number did craft and food, it was the food that the public bought and now miss, Mrs Galvin says.

Children are no longer making money and have stopped coming.

The Plaza manager Anne Murphy is required to enforce the council's rules. But she has worked alongside parents and BizKids to seek a way through.

Despite numerous emails and calls, her proposals remain unacceptable to the council.

Hibiscus and Bays Local Board member Janet Fitzgerald believes the council should allow the stalls.

She remembers the days her mum made fresh sponges for sale at Brownie and Girl Guide stalls outside the chemist in Orewa so she could go to camp and learn skills for later in life.

"We are becoming so over regulated it is ridiculous," Ms Fitzgerald says.

"Encouraging kids to get involved with learning skills for later in life can only be positive."

She will be supporting the children when the petition is presented at the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board meeting on Thursday.

- Rodney Times

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