Coffee goes cold over council permit dispute /Newsport

Coffee maker says permit problem a bitter bean to swallow

Thursday March 13 2014

A dispute over roadside vending permits between the Douglas Shire Council and two small businesses has sparked fears both operators will go broke.

Wheelie Good Coffee's Michelle Renshaw and Summer Ice Cream's Gerry Dutton can't solicit business without a Roadside Vending permit.

Mr Dutton said he's losing around $700 a week in business and Ms Renshaw said she'd been forced to sack her only employee.

But the Douglas Shire said in a statement that neither business had applied for the correct permit.

"They have not made any application for an approval and have had many months to do so," the statement said.

"They also need the approval of the Department of Transport and Main Roads because of the area they have been operating in."

Mr Dutton said he'd inquired about obtaining the permit but was told he wouldn't meet the criteria.    

The cost of processing the permit is $391.50.

Summer Ice Cream has a mobile vendors licence which allows Mr Dutton to sell food if waved down.

But he is not allowed to park on the side of the road.

"I get 'move-on' notices all the time," he said.

"So, really, my day starts at 3:30 in the afternoon when school knocks off because I can't sit anywhere.

"I'm seriously thinking I'll have to get rid of the van."

Rather than sack her only employee, Ms Renshaw said she sought interim approval from council while she prepared a submission.

But Ms Renshaw said the suggestion was rejected.

"Financially I can't wait for approvals from Douglas Shire, so unfortunately the van is getting shut down," she said.

Slow wet season trade had not helped either.

"They're the worst months of the year, January, February and March," she said.

"The van's running at a loss."

Ms Renshaw had been setting up her mobile coffee van on private property near Craiglie before being informed of the permit issue.

The majority of her business she said came from business people commuting from Port Douglas to Cairns early in the morning.

Council said it would still consider an application from both businesses but needed to see the paperwork before a decision could be made.

"Nothing can be decided without an application with the relevant details and assessment," the statement said.

"If an application for an approval is received, the application will be taken to Council for a decision."