Council maintains stance on stallholder enforcement
The Queenstown Lakes District Council has responded to a request from stallholders to meet, but remains clear it will be enforcing rules that require the small businesses to move every hour and be at least 50 metres apart when operating in public spaces.
In a statement provided to Crux, a council spokesperson says the enforcement has been prompted by complaints from local businesses and members of the public, and comes under the Activities in Public Places Bylaw 2023.
"The intent of the bylaw, which followed the required consultative process, is to achieve a balanced use of this and other areas, protect them for everyone, and ensure fairness between stallholders and buskers having opportunities to use the spaces," the QLDC spokesperson says.
"Those who wish to operate without having to move every hour and be 50 metres apart should investigate other opportunities such as the Queenstown Market held at Earnslaw Park on Saturdays, or seek private land from which to operate."
The QLDC spokesperson says council officers are always happy to meet with members of the community.
"In this case, the discussion would need to be focused on additional explanation of the current rules on top of what has already been done."
Stallholders have requested to meet with the council after they were only given 12 days over the Christmas and New Year period to grapple and adjust to new enforcement guidelines, which largely impact on their trading and income levels.
They have not had the chance to speak with council decision-makers, as they all went on holiday one day after the directive was given.
However, reports from down on the waterfront say things have been quiet since January 3; there's been very limited sightings of council enforcement officers, but many stallholders have also not been back.
Today, Crux counted seven stallholders, six of whom were selling food.
Crux understands that Queenstown Lakes mayor Glyn Lewers was seen roaming the waterfront and taking a peek at stalls on Friday (January 12), but has not responded to Crux' request for comment on his stance.
Crux asked QLDC what prompted the suddenness of this law enforcement, as senior stallholder Jan Nicholson has previously told Crux that these rules of moving and spacing out have been part of the bylaw for years, long before the last update.
QLDC says that during and immediately after the pandemic there was far less demand from traders and buskers to operate in this space.
"Now visitor numbers have recovered, the number of traders and buskers has increased dramatically," the spokesperson says.
"This combined with non-compliance with the rules has negatively affected the area and resulted in complaints to council from local businesses and members of the public.
"In turn, this has reinforced the need for renewed education and for council to consider potential enforcement to achieve compliance with the bylaw."
Ms Nicholson told Crux last week that the lakefront had gotten crowded in recent months, but says this was a result of the ease with which traders could get licenses for the area, resulting in many more sellers.
One of her suggestions was having a roster for stallholders.
Stallholders have also requested to know who authorised the sudden change in enforcement policy and how the decision was made. This information has also been requested by Crux, but it has been denied by council's communications advisor Sam White, who sent the QLDC statement.
For Ms Nicholson and other stallholders, there are still many unanswered questions.
Ms Nicholson says it takes her an hour to set up her stall, so moving to a new spot every hour is not convenient.
She has not yet been back to the waterfront since being advised of the change.