Relaxing street trading rules: fears of a ‘free-for-all’ in Sidmouth

Trading on Sidmouth's Esplanade is only allowed at certain times, such as FolkWeek. Ref shs 6649-32-

Trading on Sidmouth's Esplanade is only allowed at certain times, such as FolkWeek. Ref shs 6649-32-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Civic leaders have voiced concerns that relaxing street trading laws would see them lose control of Sidmouth’s streets, writes Stephen Sumner.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is proposing to designate the whole district as a ‘consent street’ – overturning the wide-spread prohibition.

It says the new approach would improve flexibility and pave the way for farmers’ markets or Christmas events, but town councillors are reluctant to hand over control.

Representing Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, Richard Eley told Monday’s tourism and economy committee meeting: “Our concern is this is opening the door for a free-for-all for all kinds of stalls and vans in the streets of Sidmouth.

“We think too much power is being handed over. There’s also a distinct possibility of unfair competition – they won’t be paying rent or rates.”

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He said if the rules had been relaxed last year, EDDC would have found it difficult to resist proposals for a coffee van on Sidmouth beach.

Councillor Ian Barlow added: “We shouldn’t be scared of it if we have control, but if we have no control, we should be very worried.”

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But district councillor Frances Newth defended the proposals, saying: “Each application will be considered on its own merits. I don’t see it as a free-for-all, but as prevention of a free-for-all.”

The full council will consider the proposals on July 4.

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