Sidmouth rejects bid to relax street trading laws

Stock photo of Sidmouth's Fore Street. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 7217-08-08AW

Stock photo of Sidmouth's Fore Street. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 7217-08-08AW - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth’s overwhelming opposition to proposals for relaxed street trading laws could see the town excluded from East Devon-wide changes.

The district council staged a public consultation on whether to lift current, widespread restrictions and allow people to apply to trade anywhere outdoors.

Some 81 per cent of all respondents from Sidmouth said the changes would cause problems. Zero per cent of town businesses who responded said it would benefit them.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is now considering moving forward with its idea in other towns, but leaving Sidmouth as it is.

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce welcomed the news and a spokesperson said: “We are not surprised that all sectors of Sidmouth society were strongly opposed to the creation of ‘consent streets’ in the town, which would allow EDDC to issue licences to street stalls and burger vans throughout the town and in public open spaces.”


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There are currently six ‘consent streets’ – where people must apply for permission to trade - in East Devon, including The Esplanade, Sidmouth. Street trading is banned in most of the remaining, more-centralised streets in Sidmouth, Exmouth, Honiton, Seaton, which are known as ‘prohibited areas’. Where an area is not ‘prohibited’ or a ‘consent street’, trading can go on uncontrolled.

EDDC had proposed to make the whole of the district a ‘consent area’ - so everyone would have to apply for permission to trade on the streets or in outside pedestrian areas or open spaces.

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Some 198 town and parish councils, local organisations, businesses, street traders and members of the public responded to the consultation. It was carried out to help EDDC’s overview committee form a view on the proposal. A report will now be presented to the committee in November.

Any changes agreed will need to go through further consultation and legal processes, taking proceedings into 2017.

As a result of the consultation, EDDC now says one ‘possible recommendation’ will be to propose that the whole of the district, with the exception of Sidmouth, becomes one ‘consent street’. Sidmouth would retain its current prohibition arrangements, which includes arrangements for FolkWeek.

Councillor Phil Skinner, EDDC’s portfolio holder for economy, said: “As much as I welcome street traders to increase vibrancy and choice throughout East Devon, we need to ensure that, while we encourage these small businesses, we must also support permanent shops by limiting conflict of interest.”

He thanked all those who took part in the consultation.

Consultation results:

Percentage of all respondents in East Devon who felt a district-wide ‘consent area’ would benefit them:

• All respondents – 42%

• Business owners with fixed premises within East Devon – 15%

• Street traders – 82%

• Residents – 50%

Percentage of respondents in East Devon who felt a district-wide ‘consent area’ would cause problems:

• All respondents – 48%

• Business owners with fixed premises within East Devon – 71%

• Street traders – 10%

• Residents – 43%

In Sidmouth

Percentage of respondents in Sidmouth who felt a district-wide ‘consent area’ would benefit them:

• All respondents – 14%

• Residents– 22%

• Business owners with fixed premises– 0%

Everywhere else

Percentage of respondents outside of Sidmouth, within East Devon, who feel it would benefit them:

• All respondents– 63%

• Residents – 71%

• Business owners with fixed premises – 29%

In Sidmouth

Percentage of respondents in Sidmouth who felt a district-wide ‘consent area’ would cause problems:

• All respondents – 81%

• Residents– 79%,

• Business owners with fixed premises– 88%

Everywhere else

Percentage of respondents outside of Sidmouth, within East Devon, who felt a district-wide ‘consent area’ would cause problems:

• All respondents – 24%

• Residents – 12%

• Business owners with fixed premises – 52%

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