Bruce Maxfield and Roy Gray, owners of Sands Fish & Chips sit at a proposed outdoor seating spot. Photo: Sinead Ogilvie.

Fish & Chip shop’s $2000 table


Owners of a fish and chip shop could be forced to pay more than $2000 a year in council fees after they attempted to upgrade their outdoor seating.
Bruce Maxfield and Roy Gray, owners of the Sands Fish & Chip shop in Tahunanui, want to upgrade their current outdoor seating to offer two wooden picnic tables as permanent fixtures out the front of their busy takeaway shop. After seeking advice from Nelson City Council they were told that any outdoor seating needed to have consent as the property outside the space they lease is officially part of State Highway 6.
They received two proposals from the council with an option to place the tables directly in front of the entry to their shop at a cost of $960 plus GST per year or they could occupy a larger area at a cost of $2240 plus GST per year.
The fact that they needed consent has come as a complete surprise to Bruce who says the current tables and chairs have been there for years without being paid for.
“The last owner had chairs and tables out there for five years without having to pay a yearly fee, we just don’t understand why all of a sudden it’s an issue.”
Bruce argues that having seating, tables, and plants, his shop and the neighbouring businesses are all aesthetically enhancing elements to the area and he doesn’t see what the money paid in consent fees could possibly go towards, given that it’s the tenants themselves who keep the area tidy and maintained.   “To my knowledge we and the other business owners are the ones out there sweeping, watering the grass and keeping things tidy, not the council.”
His view was echoed by Kite Surf Nelson owner Shane Anderson who has outdoor seating also says he supports Bruce and Roy’s bid “100 per cent”.  “The outdoor area is good for our community and good for the local businesses. 
For me it is a grey area because as far as I am aware, the council aren’t taking care of it or cleaning it. It’s pretty much no man’s land.”
Angela Ricker, manager of community relations for the Nelson City Council, says that the NCC will be getting in touch with business owners to discuss consent requirements.  “Business owners on this stretch of road are responsible for having consent to occupy part of the footpath on road reserve. It is the council’s responsibility to manage road reserves (footpath) in agreement with NZTA in this case.
Any fees collected for using road reserves go towards the council’s operational costs to maintain and enhance public areas within these reserves, such as footpaths, paving, and vegetation.”  Bruce says he wants a good explanation from the council as to why they need to pay such a large amount of money and he would like them to show him what the money is going towards.
“I’d like to see some evidence of the council beautifying the area. What are they using the money for? In my opinion it’s an exorbitant price for a business of our size. We are offering a service to local people and a huge number of tourists, some of whom simply just want to take a seat while they eat their meal.”