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Local restauranteurs and cafe owners are not accepting Auckland Council’s proposal to tax them for providing outdoor dining areas for their loyal customers.
Auckland Council, according to Andy Baker, chairman of the Franklin Local Board, is working through its Proposed Trading and Events in Public Places Bylaw in an effort to bring consistency to its Long-term Plan.
Charging these businesses for using public space has been operating in Auckland previous to the new council being formed but it was not part of the former Franklin District Council’s bylaws,” says Andy.
“Council’s thinking is that businesses should contribute to the services provided, and why should those that have a nice wide footpath have an advantage over those that don’t?
“Just under 50% of council’s revenues come from rates. The rest comes from fees and charges. Council believes that, if you use public space for private gain then you should pay rental for that space.
“Will council maintain public space in Pukekohe?”
“I can understand how Auckland do things,” says Dean Sheppard, owner of Pukekohe’s popular Monarch Cafe at the top of King Street.
“We look after the public space in question and it is unfortunate that council is going to tax us for areas that we maintain.”
Dean wants to know who is going to carry on cleaning the corner where his cafe is situated once the taxation is applied?
“Under the Franklin District Council there used to be a service that kept the streets neat and tidy on a daily basis. Auckland’s so-called ‘super council’ don’t clean them now.”
“Nothing more than a revenue-gathering scheme.”
“On top of that, all our fees have doubled, even tripled, but we have had no extra services provided.
Dean harks back to the days when the Franklin District Council upgraded the CBD and when they planned the corner at the King and Queen Streets, council planners approached him to see if they could extend the front paving area in an effort to beautify it.
“They suggested they could create an alfresco dining environment, which to me, made sense.
“It has been a popular place for diners ever since, but now under this new council, we’re having wear all these new costs that are eroding our added value.”
Andy Baker says the affected businesses have been visited by council staff members who have measured the outdoor spaces being used for dining. Businesses will have to apply to use that space and they can expect to pay $360 for an annual license plus $20 per square metre for use of the footpath space.
“To me,” says Dean Sheppard, “it is nothing more than a revenue-gathering scheme.”
A negative for small businesses
Maxine Sleyer and Ramesh Naran of Coffee Time Cafe in King Street are not happy.
“It is a negative,” she says. “Pukekohe was a really nice country town before it became part of Auckland. Gradually this country feeling is being taken away.”
Maxine and Ramesh believe small businesses are being penalised for providing facilities for the older customers too.
“We have pensioners who visit us every morning, sit outside and have a chat,” says Maxine.
“We also have customers who enjoy sitting outside with a smoke and a cup of coffee. Where are they going to go if we pull our outdoor tables?
“It seems council is trying to discourage small businesses from providing added value to customers,” says Ramesh.
“We are already paying plenty in rates, and for our operating license. They are not cheap.”
Public still ‘don’t want to be part of Auckland’
Coffee Time customers, Paul and Bronwyn Haynes have chimed in with support and are not complimentary toward Auckland Council, saying the new body was formed against public opinion.
“It’s terrible what they are doing to what was a beautiful country town,” says Bronwyn.
“As soon as the green light was given to come in here they hiked the rates, the water rates and sent in the parking wardens. Now they are hitting the small businesses.
Note: The proposed bylaw will be open for public discussion early in 2015 and the Long- term Plan is expected to be completed by August.
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