Fears for Nimbin’s illegal street vendors
NIMBIN community leaders fear Lismore City Council will clamp down on the town's illegal street vendors to the detriment of its alternative street appeal.
During a speech at the Nimbin fire anniversary ceremony last week, Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone claimed council was "cleaning the footpaths" of street ambiance using CCTV.
But Mayor Jenny Dowell put paid to reports that the council had plans to use cameras to police illegal footpath street vendors.
At July's Nimbin Advisory Group meeting, both CCTV and street vendors were discussed but the two issues were separate, she said.
However, she said safety issues relating to street stalls operated by itinerant vendors who set up on footpaths were of concern.
The Nimbin Chamber of Commerce raised the issue of illegal street vendors with council, and council officers are now consulting with the Nimbin Advisory Group and police to look at solutions.
"There are challenges for council to keep safe access to footpaths consistent across the local government area," Cr Dowell said.
"We do receive complaints from some shop owners who are paying rates who have someone selling similar goods and materials on the footpath outside."
In Lismore's CBD only charities can sell goods on the footpath.
"Council are always under some pressure to standardise the rules across the local government area," she said.
Mr Balderstone said street sellers were integral to the tourist appeal of the town.
"The best part of the Museum was always the living exhibits and it was terrific they were all still around today. It's the community spirit thing that made the Museum so popular and we're all keen to keep it in Nimbin and that's why 'cleaning the footpaths' sends off warning bells," he said.
The co-developer of the proposed $750,000 retail and cultural development, David Piesse, is a strong supporter of illegal street vendors.
"It supports people who don't have much money in a very good way," he said.
"People are so short-sighted to destroy the ambiance of the town. The people make the ambiance. If the street traders are gone it will make Nimbin less appealing for tourists."
Long-time Nimbin street vendor Anita Dellyoo, who sells jewellery, feared her livelihood would be taken away.
"This is my sole income. Without it I would be on welfare," she said.
Cr Dowell said any policy on street sellers in Nimbin would take into account Nimbin's alternative appeal.