Street traders face another hammering
Stalls and vans in rural laybys could be the next target for officials seeking to drive out unfair and dangerous street trading in north Norfolk.The move comes as a recent clampdown in the centre of Cromer town centre was hailed a success, and looks likely to be spread to other towns across the district.
Stalls and vans in rural lay-bys could be the next target for officials seeking to drive out unfair and dangerous street trading in north Norfolk.
The move comes as a recent clampdown in the centre of Cromer town centre was hailed a success, and looks likely to be spread to other towns across the district.
But a senior official confirmed they were also poised to look at wider street trading issues, following concerns about increased trading in lay-bys.
Established town traders had highlighted an increase in roadside sellers to North Norfolk District Council, said environmental health manager Chris Cawley.
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"There has always been local produce sold by farmers, selling potatoes, strawberries and flowers, who are there for a few hours and then leave. But we are getting more burger vans, and two or three traders in a lay-by instead of one.
"They are not breaking the law but we are getting traders concerned about the competition from people not paying business rates," said Mr Cawley.
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Highways officials looked at road safety issues of lay-by selling, but the district council would be investigating whether there was a need for more controls for other aspects.
"Are they an eyesore? Is there an issue with litter, waste and toilet facilities? And there is the competition factor," he added.
Officials were monitoring the Cromer street trading clampdown which swept a lot of the resort's goods, and advertising boards, off the streets as a new licensing system also covering street caf� tables and chairs was introduced in January.
"The footways are less cluttered and people are appreciating it," said Mr Cawley. A report to councillors this summer would look at expanding the scheme to the other towns, and also look at the lay-by issue.
Cromer chamber of trade president Sue Brown said the new rules were "unwanted policing" and had removed more street goods and seaside atmosphere than hoped, but generally it had been accepted.
She urged the council to ensure the differences between towns and streets were taken into account and that the circumstances of individual traders in "grey areas" were also listened to.
Mrs Brown felt the boom in streetside trading was a "sign of the times" born out of people seeking low-cost business start-ups in the recession.
"We have always had seasonal traders, so good luck to them, so long as there is monitoring."
Norfolk county council said it had no powers to permit or charge traders using lay-bys, but did not take action if there was no traffic danger, obstruction, nuisance, signs, damage to the verge, and if public health measures were satisfied and the site vacated daily after trading.
However, they had used bylaws to ban trading on some stretches of road, such as a fruit and vegetable stall on the A140 near Norwich airport which was considered a danger to traffic.