A newcomer to Margaret River’s main street has spoken out in favour of food trucks setting up in the town square. Jessica Waldron from Normal Van, which recently traded as a food truck, said there was merit in a tentative Shire of Augusta-Margaret River plan to allow the mobile businesses in the Fearn Avenue festival precinct at certain times. “Running the food trucks in the precinct is a great idea, such an awesome spot to help small businesses get exposure to the town,” Ms Waldron said. “Having more options on the main street is awesome and it would utilise that space and provide a better street atmosphere, which is better for all main street businesses.” While the Normal Van owners were sympathetic to the concept, other traders told the Times mobile vendors who didn’t pay rates were a threat to business. The discussion comes after the shire last week opened consultation on its YourSay page for main street operators to provide feedback on the concept as part of possible changes to its alfresco dining policy. Settlers Tavern owner Rob Gough was among those sounding caution. While mobile vendors were needed for festivals and special events, Mr Gough said the town centre was well-served by eateries, “many of whom are doing it tough in the current economy”. “Food trucks, whilst playing a unique role in dining options, potentially threaten to undermine the sustainability of year-round ratepaying employers within their proximity and this needs to be carefully considered,” he said. Permanent businesses also provided year-round employment and supported other vendors for goods and services. Mr Gough said any new policy needed to serve established businesses as well as food truck operators. “This will help support local employment and the continued development of a vibrant, soulful Margaret River community,” he said. Ms Waldron welcomed a review of the vendor policy and said anyone thinking food truck operators had an easy ride should think again. “You don’t have those doors you can just open; people have to find you, wherever you are moving, and you are often at the behest of the shire/permit limitations on where you can go,” she said. The shire said the concept of food vans was just one element in its alfresco policy. “As a part of the preliminary consultation process, this YourSay survey is intended for main street traders only at this stage to see if it would be an acceptable manner of activating the festival precinct,” a spokesperson said. “We will be asking the broader community to contribute their ideas when any revisions to the policy have been approved by council to advertise for public comment.” Another operator who asked not to be named said businesses had to provide an offering that customers wanted and food vans were a growing attraction many visitors wanted.