Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce air concerns over bid to change street trading laws

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

A burger van could be allowed to operate in Sidmouth’s Market Place if street trading laws are relaxed, business leaders have warned.

Chamber of commerce bosses have spoken out on a ‘number of concerns’ following the launch of a consultation by East Devon District Council (EDDC) on street trading in the district.

Writing to members, its executive committee said it would be ‘uncomfortable’ with district council officers having the final say on street trading decisions, and argued there was no guarantee any consultation would be meaningful.

A spokesman said: “The present system appears to be working satisfactorily. Faced with a choice between doing the right thing for Sidmouth, and making money for themselves, we are frankly sceptical of the outcome.

“Street traders operating from stalls in our town may not represent fair competition.

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“The street vendors may have an adverse impact upon the general appearance of the town and its ambience.

“We are not convinced that, for example, a burger van or a T-shirt stall in the Market Square or the High Street is appropriate for Sidmouth.

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“We think that such trading activity is highly likely to occur if this proposal is allowed to proceed.”

Currently, street trading is banned in all but six designated ‘consent streets’ across the district, which includes Sidmouth’s Esplanade.

The chamber also argued the council would be ‘incentivised’ to grant permission to street traders due to the cost of administration and of challenging appeals.

EDDC launched the first stage of its consultation last week, saying the proposals were part of a bid to boost the local economy, by promoting high streets and town centres and encourage market traders to flourish.

To complete a survey, visit Deadline for completed forms is July 29.

A questionnaire was sent out to businesses and councillors with residents also encouraged to share their thoughts.

Richard Cohen, EDDC deputy chief executive, said last week: “We want to actively encourage opinion about these proposals, as it is vital that we gain as much feedback as possible from everyone involved.”

Chamber members will be speaking at Sidmouth Town Council’s tourism and economy committee meeting on Monday evening.

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