Hawkers get the hook

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Say goodbye to buying fresh fish from the side of the road.

A Queenstown fish trader is gutted at being ordered to quit selling from his van at a prime roadside spot on the Frankton highway.

Fresh Fish Brothers co-owner Shaun Fa’amalepe has been told by regulatory body Lakes Environmental he can no longer operate from the busy Kawarau Road site he’s parked at for two years.

The upset businessman says every vendor at the site, including several fruit and flower stallholders, has been given the chop.

LE inspector Bruce McDonald wrote to Fa’amalepe last month warning him to stop his “unlaw­­ful trading in a public place” with immediate effect – or face having his van seized and impounded.

“I also got a phone call from him telling me about the decision,” says Fa’amalepe.

“It came as quite a shock.

“It appears the rules have changed slightly and no one can sell there anymore.

“It seems like I’ve been breaking the law for the last two years despite having being licensed.”

Fresh Fish Brothers also has a fish and chip shop in Arrowtown and a fish-processing plant at Glenda Drive – but Fa’amalepe says the van ruling will hit hard.

“At a stroke of a pen it’s ‘sorry, you’re out of business’, and that’s pretty tough all right, to say the least.”

Fa’amalepe says he was given the news shortly after he’d paid $300 to have his annual food stall licence renewed.

He claims pressure from parties such as road operator Transit, Queenstown Lakes District Council and retailers had a bearing on LE’s decision.

But adds: “I’m sure people have abused selling on the side of the road without licences and that probably hasn’t helped. In the last six months a lot more [traders] were turning up.”

LE enforcement boss Tim Francis says it’s been “an anomaly” that retailers had been using road reserve “without being directed where they can trade”.

He confirms “there is no longer any carte blanche, do-what-you-like trading from the Frankton roundabout to the Kawarau Falls bridge”.

That policy had now been adopted because Transit views it as a “black spot” area for safety and there’d been concerns raised by neighbours.

The banned traders can apply for alternative sites that LE would assess from safety, amenity and other angles, Francis says.

He accepts Kawarau Rd is a prominent spot – “but it’s not the only high-profile road in the whole district”.