ATCM disappointed by Government’s lack of action on illegal street traders

22 October 2014

  • Inaction on illegal street traders contributes to a poor trading environment and shows disregard for consumer protection
  • Adopting legislation enacted in other parts of the UK would provide a satisfactory and modern street trading system

 The Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) is disappointed that, despite many representations from industry bodies to Government over a period of years about the state of street trading in England and Wales, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has decided not to support town centres by modernising legislation governing illegal street trading.

The problems with the existing street trading legislation are extensive, unnecessarily placing the burden of administration and enforcement of pedlars on the police, creating numerous health and safety concerns with congestion on busy high streets and no form of redress for consumers who purchase faulty or counterfeit goods.

The current position also creates unfairness for bona fide traders on markets and market-type events (e.g. fairs and festivals), licensed street traders and other local retail offers, who pay a variety of fees and taxes avoided by illegal street traders operating on the UK’s economically hard-pressed high streets.

This situation creates additional problems for town centres trying to bring confidence and economic regeneration back to their high streets.

 Shanaaz Carroll, deputy chief executive of the ATCM, said:

“This issue was flagged up to Government over a decade ago. It is clear that retaining the Pedlars Act of 1871 and 1881 does not provide us with the modern trading environment that our town centres are striving for. Good pedlars that stick to the letter and spirit of the law can add vibrancy to the high street, but everyone knows the existing legislation makes enforcement virtually impossible and therefore it is routinely abused.”

Joe Harrison, chief executive of the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) and long-standing director of the ATCM, said:

 “I can sympathise with genuine pedlars who comply with the law. Those who trade illegally devalue the markets that they congregate around and directly impact the trade of licensed street traders. Illegal street traders are simply a scourge on our nation’s high streets.

“It is overwhelmingly disappointing that the Government has ignored the high street retail and markets industry lobby after consulting with us for over ten years. This lack of action smacks of an unwillingness to support genuine retailers trying to make an honest living in our nation’s markets and high streets.”

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