Square vendors fight for spaces
Mobile shop spaces in The Square have become so popular Palmerston North City Council is going to put them out to tender to give all operators a fair chance of claiming one.
There are 20 operators on the waiting list, ready to pounce if one of the seven approved parks becomes available.
And the council has written to existing stallholders reminding them that they have no right to try to transfer their health licence or sell their site to anyone else.
Property officer Stephanie Thomson said the number of sites was limited to seven, so it was a matter of managing them fairly rather than creating more sites to cater for demand.
The Square has provided a shop space for some colourful characters over the years.
Possibly New Zealand's most famous asylum seeker, Algerian Ahmed Zaoui, ran a stall after the SIS declared he was no longer a risk to national security in 2007.
He was based in a caravan in The Square for about 18 months before leaving for Auckland in January.
A veteran was Hocine Hamdi-Pacha, who signed off last month after serving kebabs from his caravan for 21 years, most of that time in The Square.
Ms Thomson said the locations where caravans and food stalls could be set up around The Square had been carefully chosen in consultation with Maori and other groups.
The council had tried to strike a balance, allowing activities in The Square that attracted people and added vibrancy to the city, but discouraging an overload of commercial business within the park.
The logistics of providing power supplies also restricted the number of operators that could be accommodated.
The council was keen to have a variety of types of food stalls to provide a range of choices for shoppers and reduce competition between similar types of stalls.
Ms Thomson said the new system of going out to tender and awarding a licence agreement to successful tenderers was intended to make the operators' rights and responsibilities more clear.
Currently the mobile shop owners have to have a health licence to sell food, and an activity licence to operate in The Square.
The licences are not transferable and cannot be sold.
There has been no formal licence for occupying a particular location - and that will change next year.
The new tendering system will be advertised in March, with decisions notified in May, and licence agreements issued to be effective from July 1 for a period of up to three years.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What would you like the weather to do in March?