Coffee van man gets on his trike


- Credit: Archant

A businessman whose dream of a seafront coffee van was dashed has caused another stir peddling hot drinks from a tricycle – using legislation that dates back to the Victorian age.

Existing café owners said Dave Manley’s previous bid represented unfair competition and would set a dangerous precedent - but now he has the backing of the police and a pedlar’s licence.

Opponents have tried and failed to fight the 1882 law and it remains in statute – allowing him to keep selling drinks as long as he keeps moving.

“We aren’t trading, we’re peddling,” said Mr Manley. “Case law says I need to move every 15 to 20 minutes. It’s a very old law.

“We’re providing something customers value that will bring people to Sidmouth.

“There’s been a bit of a kick-back. It wasn’t surprising. People who complain don’t understand the law.”

The licence allows him to operate 12 months of the year, but he only plans to be out in good weather.

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As well as a long history of pedlars nationwide, Mr Manley is also following in the tracks of an ice cream van that frequents The Esplanade.

He claims it has proven a hit with residents and tourists alike, but existing businesses have been less impressed.

Matthew Weaver, who owns the Fort Café, said: “It’s not good for my business. It’s completely unfair – he has no bills to pay, no staff to pay and he’s taking my business.”

Mocha owner Graham Stout said: “Every coffee he sells is a coffee away from businesses in town.”

Stephen Clarke, from Rendezvous, said: “He’s been here all week – does the council know what’s going on?

“We’re here 24/seven, 365-days-a -year. This isn’t good for us.”

Similar concerns were raised against Mr Manley’s previous bid for a coffee van, which he was hoping to operate from the western end of the beach.

He was initially granted permission by East Devon District Council (EDDC) until, nearly a year later, the authority realised such a concession was illegal.

For his new business, Mr Manley has responded to concerns about litter by using biodegradable cups and complaints about the van’s appearance by swapping it for a ‘retro’ tricycle - more in keeping with the location.

As well as his licence, he also has a top environmental health rating and public liability insurance.

So while anyone else who wanted to could follow suit, Mr Manley said it is not cheap to do so.

The Esplanade is managed by EDDC and a spokesman said it was a police matter. The authority would only get involved if a trader set up a fixed pitch, as permission is not normally granted on The Esplanade outside of FolkWeek.