Demand Hobsons Bay City Council Explain Why they are evicting Gourmet Pawprints

    Hobsons Bay City Council is forcing the closure of a small award winning tourism business – Gourmet Pawprints

    The Castle movie was filmed almost 25 years ago, but today a real life situation of a Council behaving badly is happening – Let’s “tell them they are dreaming”

    In Jan 2021, Gourmet Pawprints received approval from Hobsons Bay City Council (HBCC) to operate their Dog Friendly Experiences on Bella the bus from the Spotswood & Kingsville RSL (SKRSL - 59 The Avenue, Spotswood, Victoria) and in July 2021 this agreement was revoked without a legitimate reason.

    Gourmet Pawprints is seeking support from the media to highlight the issue and to get an explanation for the decision from HBCC as to why they are effectively closing the business.

    The agreement in place was with the SKRSL with Gourmet Pawprints being able to have premises which customers could enjoy prior to commencing on a tour. With HBCC stepping in and cancelling the agreement, Gourmet Pawprints is unable to operate and does not have alternative premises.

    The grounds for reneging on the agreement were vague and misleading. HBCC initially claimed the bus was located on residential land, then said it was on PPRZ land and then said they were changing the terms of SKRSL lease, and the changes were such as to prevent Gourmet Pawprints operating.

    Gourmet Pawprints notes that HBCC state in their eviction letter they had discretion in the matter but were refusing to exercise this.

    In March 2021, HBCC provided a grant to Gourmet Pawprints to have a ‘new home launch event’.

    Over the past 18 months, Gourmet Pawprints has had limited business operations due to Covid19 lockdowns and faced many financial and business uncertainty issues but has been resilient. Some would say “what Covid19 could not do to Gourmet Pawprints, HBCC has managed to”, closing the business!

    In the course of trying to understand the issue, the owner of Gourmet Pawprints, Kerry Watt was met with bullying, intimidation and threatening actions from HBCC.

    The big question is WHY would HBCC force the closure of tourism business at a time when all small businesses and especially tourism are on their knees and have been for over 18 months?

    SKRSL is a fabulous location to support tourism for the inner west of Melbourne by bringing people from all over Victoria to a venue and location they may not have experienced previously. In doing so, Gourmet Pawprints is actively supporting the HBCC Tourism Strategy 2019-2025 in particular to “Objective 2.1 – Strengthen and support new and existing tourism experiences”.

    As stated in an industry update to members of the Victorian Tourism Council (VTIC), the CEO Felicia Mariani said on 10 Aug 2021
    “From the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, it was always predicted that the nation’s $150 billion tourism, events and hospitality industry would be the first affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we would be the last industry to recover. Throughout the past 18 months, businesses operating within the nation’s visitor economy have been unable to reactivate at the same pace and scale of businesses in other sectors of the economy. Even if we are not in a lockdown situation, the ongoing residual operating restrictions will continue to impede an industry that relies on people being able to move freely across the country – and across the globe.”

    SKRSL enables Gourmet Pawprints to continue to support local businesses such as cafes to provide tour essentials such as picnic boxes, morning teas and other operational requirements. This location is essential as it provides easy access to the freeway for customers and for Gourmet Pawprints to travel to many regions in Victoria.

    Gourmet Pawprints is an award winning small unique tourism business where dogs and their humans get to travel on Bella the Bus experiencing Doggy Winery Tours, Picnics, High Teas, Doggy Treks and more. Gourmet Pawprints has received numerous 5 Star Trip Advisor reviews stating how amazing these experiences are for Peeps and Paws alike.

    Not only did Gourmet Pawprints achieve Silver at the 2019 Victorian Tourism Awards, they were also the Winner of the 2019 Hobsons Bay City Council Business Excellence Awards – Tourism.
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