An update to the Shire of Harvey’s food truck policy has led to an outcry from the town’s businesses who claim it will be a “local business slaughter” with the final decision left to be determined by the public. If given the go-ahead by residents, the updated policy will grant mobile food vendors permission to trade in two key locations within the Harvey townsite — Hayward Street and Snell’s Park — for a total of four days a week, as opposed to their current monthly visits. Met with distain from a pair of Harvey’s small business owners who said they were unaware the proposal “was even being made”, councillors voted in favour of opening the decision up to the public in the form of an online survey. Owner of a fried chicken shop Erin Spence said she started her small business Chik-N-Shak in January, “endured” the COVID mandates and had already felt the sting of the food truck’s monthly visits. “It will only take a couple of months to have a significant impact on the business, (Chik-N-Shak) isn’t a huge operation, you can’t sustain those sorts of losses over a long period of time, you just can’t,” she said. “Fair competition would be someone moving in to the shop next door and selling food, they would be in the same boat as us with the same overheads and problems, they wouldn’t get to roll off on the weekend and go where the money is. “It’s a slaughter, an absolute slaughter of local business.” Her statements were echoed by owner of Anchovies Pizza Narelle Celisano who spoke of her concerns at the Shire’s ordinary council meeting and said the possibility of the vans operating four times a week during peak business hours was “absolutely shattering”. “(The current food vans) are set up a hundred metres from our business in Snells Park, on those nights when Dinner at Dusk is there our turnover is 30 per cent down always and at least,” she said. “It’s a little bit hard, we employ six junior kids that live in town, so on those nights, it’s quiet, we shut and send them home early.” “The food trucks sort of just come, park and take income away from us ... I’d like the Shire to take into consideration that this decision will not only affect our business but everyone in the Shire.” The Trading in Public Places for Food Vendors policy — last updated in 2018 — currently monitors 17 registered food traders able to trade intermittently in and outside of the Shire, two of which operate out of Ridley Place Foreshore on two-year permits. In the hope of gauging the viability of the two potential Harvey sites, the Shire initially offered a 12-month trial period to popular trader Up in Smoke, however the council has since back stepped on this decision. Shire president Paul Gillett said food trucks hade become increasingly popular and could provide “substantial” economic stimulus, activate community spaces and create economic and social benefits through increased visitation. “There has been regular feedback received from visitors that Harvey and other townsites do not offer a consistent food offering, particularly during school holidays and at night,” he said. “The Shire’s process aims to balance the interests of visitors, residents, and food van operators with the interests of established businesses.” The two Harvey locations are open for public comment for a total of 21 days.