Councillors commit to addressing concerns of Queenstown stallholders
Queenstown stallholders have begun what they say are productive conversations around the future of lakefront trading, after they were delivered unsettling news by council enforcement officers late last year.
Long-term stallholder Jan Nicholson sat down with three Queenstown Lakes District councillors, Queenstown-based ACT list MP Todd Stevenson and two other stallholders last Friday (January 26) to discuss the current situation and how to go forward.
Stallholders, along with buskers and collectors for charity, must be spaced 50 metres away from each other and move every hour, a requirement that doesn't suit all vendors.
Ms Nicholson says the conversation was "very productive" as lakefront stallholders have been grappling with how to trade for the past month after they were told of the new enforceable rules a few days before Christmas.
"We have opened the door, and will continue dialogue," Ms Nicholson says.
Councillor Esther Whitehead, who attended the meeting on Friday, along with councillors Mellissa White and Gavin Bartlett, says they are collaborating and working together, and are looking to "de-escalate" the situation.
"We heard the issues, we agree to the issues and are looking to remedy the issues," Councillor Whitehead says.
She says the next step after Friday's meeting is for councillors to take the feedback from the three stallholders that attended and present it to the council.
The were the new rules of trade come January 3 as a result of updated 'Activities in Public Places' Bylaw 2023.
ACT MP Todd Stevenson says he was happy to go along and hear concerns, and has also reported back what was discussed to Southland MP Joseph Mooney, who was unable to attend the meeting.
Councillor Niki Gladding has also spoken to Crux about the Activities in Public Places Bylaw 2023, saying it is her view there was a "failure" in the public consultation process for the bylaw review, meaning those likely to be affected by some of its changes may not have had adequate opportunity to have a say on them.
She thinks the rules as they now stand are impractical.
"I don't think we can have those rules which say stallholders must move every hour and be 50 metres apart. It's absurd, and we didn't consult on those rules for stallholders, and it needs to be solved fairly."
When the draft bylaw document went out for consultation last year, the rules involving moving every hour and being spaced out 50 metres, were listed under the heading of 'conditions for busking performances' in clause 12 of the bylaw, however when the bylaw was adopted in September, the heading had changed to 'conditions for busking, pop-up stalls and charity street collection'.
Councillor Gladding says she contacted Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Mike Theelen last week to see if he agrees that the consultation process was "incorrect" and is waiting to hear back.