Trader law bid sparks concern

By Ian Dipple Thursday 31 January 2013 Updated: 31/01 12:38

PLANS to repeal a Victorian law controlling street traders could lead to a rise in the number of ‘Rodney Trotters’ across the borough, concerned councillors fear.

Redditch Borough Council is urging the Government to think again about plans to scrap the Pedlars Acts of 1871 and 1881 which it fears could also result in more cold calling and expose the public to the sale of dodgy goods on the street.

Currently door-to-door sellers have to prove they have lived in the area they want to trade in for at least a month, are of good character and are at least 17-years-old before they can get a licence from police. But the Government says the restrictions do not comply with the European Services Directive, which states anyone should be free to trade unless there is an overriding reason for a license scheme, such as public security, combating fraud and protection of vulnerable adults.

Councils could also lose their power to refuse an application from a static seller on the grounds there are already enough traders and shops in a particular area.

Potentially the changes could also affect the borough council’s policies on which streets are designated for trading and a recently introduced ban on selling cars on grass verges.

The Government believes scrapping the rules will help entrepreneurs, particularly young people wanting to start a business, and small traders.

But Coun Pattie Hill, who represents Batchley and Brockhill, said she feared the move would make it easier for the elderly and vulnerable to be targeted by unscrupulous traders.

“There’s a reason laws are made and I am very, very concerned about this. This repeal is unnecessary and won’t be enforceable,” she told a recent full council meeting.

“This will be very bad for the town. We are going to try and do something with Church Green East and everything else and we don’t want people bobbing up and down every ten minutes with no control.

“The idea of these pedlars being fledgling businesses could not be further from the truth. The goods will be poor quality, customers don’t get their money back for shoddy goods and enforcement is ineffective.”

Coun Phil Mould, responsible for corporate management on the council, said: “By the sound of these young entrepreneurs they are obviously the Rodney Trotters of tomorrow.”

The Government is consulting on the move until February 15.

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