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Street trade policy is like a “school playground lottery,” says the council

The Birmingham Street Traders’ Association is preparing to go to the High Court in an attempt to prevent the Birmingham City Council from imposing new terms and conditions.

With traders each paying more than £ 640 per month for each launch, they say the new rules will effectively “close” their businesses.

And they argue that the councilors are already “acting as if the Street Trading Policy 2020 project had actually been approved and adopted.”

Now they have hired a QC leader to fight plans that traders claim are threatening their decades-old livelihoods.

A statement sent to the city council by QC Leo Charalambides on behalf of the association stated: “The traders who have served the city and have contributed to its liveliness for decades and in some cases for a number of le are a cause of alarm and serious concern. generations are experiencing and the years of civil service reduced to some form of lottery in the school yard.

“This is not only a cause of personal and professional anxiety, but deeply offensive.”

What’s going on?



Allan Poole, president of the Birmingham Street Traders' Association says that the new terms of the Birmingham City Council could make all 22 stalls disappear from the streets
Allan Poole, president of the Birmingham Street Traders’ Association says that the new terms of the Birmingham City Council could make all 22 stalls disappear from the streets

Consultations for a new street trade policy closed on February 23 and, if approved, could force traders to invest in expensive stalls without knowing if they would still have a 12 month step along the line.

Another consultation, called City Center Public Realm Improvements, was closed on February 21st.

This policy could force operators to move out of their pitches every day.

They would not be able to arrive after 07:00 or leave before 19:00, forcing them to work for much more than 12 hours a day.

They also argue that being forced into and out of the center every day would contradict the objectives of the new Clean Air Zone tax that is expected to be implemented this summer.



Allan Poole - happy to be back on the corner of New Street and High Street with his Central Flowers stall
July 23, 2019: happy days for Allan Poole after he was able to return to his usual side of New Street following the redevelopment of the unit that houses the new Metro Bank

The new commercial policy for 22 city center pitches and another 66 across the city could already be approved by a cabinet meeting on March 17 – and will come into effect in April – while the date of the public kingdom consultation cabinet for approval it is not until June 23.

A spokesman for the Birmingham City Council said today: “All responses to the consultation that have been received will be taken into account as the council prepares for the next steps in the development of street trade policy.

“As such, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point.”

But President Allan Poole, who runs the Central Flowers souvenir stall from the corner of High Street and New Street, told BirminghamLive: “We all fear for our livelihood.

“We hired one of the best QCs to fight our case, but in reality we don’t ask for anything, just to be able to continue as we are.

“Our activities should be closed under new terms and conditions because we are unable to operate.

“If the proposals are implemented, we will instruct our quality control Leos Charalambides to apply directly to the High Court to apply for an injunction.”



The joy of spuds: Leigh Paton serves regular customer Kareen Jones, a fan of jerk chicken with baked potatoes
The joy of spuds: Leigh Paton serves regular customer Kareen Jones, a fan of jerk chicken with baked potatoes

Association member Leigh Patton who has served baked potatoes for nearly 30 years since his unit Mr Bumbles currently on Cherry Street said: “We have completed two online surveys, both heavily weighted in favor of the board’s views, particularly the public realm consultation, which makes no mention of street traders.

“It’s like we’re airbrushed from Birmingham’s history – a form of social cleansing.”

A ten-page document contesting the “Draft Street 2020 Commercial Policy Consultation” includes comments from nine different traders, including Cary Sutton, who say, “My family has been a flower vendor in Birmingham for more than 150 years.” .

The view of the Birmingham Street Traders’ Association



The Allan Poole camp is in the shadow of the largest Primark in the world and welcomed the major step that has taken since the opening of 11 April 2019
The Allan Poole camp is in the shadow of the largest Primark in the world and welcomed the major step that has taken since the opening of 11 April 2019

President Allan Poole told BirminghamLive: “After negotiating for 30 years, it is not fair that the board suddenly wants to engage with short-term contracts and give others the opportunity to apply for our proposals through a new administrative fee which they shouldn’t refund if an application was unsuccessful. This is a money-making scheme that simply isn’t necessary.

“We want to go on with the advice and improve things.

“This is something we have been trying to do for ten years, but every two or three years the person we deal with moves and then we have to start over.

“We want to be ready to welcome the world here for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.”



Leigh Paton in his trailer
A warm welcome: Leigh Paton in his potato trailer with Mr Brumbles warm jacket

Now 56 and a grandfather, Poole added: “Our members who work outside of the football fields are supporting our fight because they are told that they should have had a 30 day contract and not a 12 month contract.

“With Coventry City sharing the grounds of Birmingham City, our traders would be denied to work on every meeting and other events as they can currently do while others may then get on the pitch.

“The city council should try to get around us, not by pushing us away.”

Traders have a say



The Tays Corner trader stall run by Max Davies on Bristol Road South, Northfield
The Tays Corner trader stall run by Max Davies on Bristol Road South, Northfield

Karen and James Smith – hats and scarves, New Street: “The license has never been renewed in 27 years … I have often stopped the beggars who accused people aggressively from my desk …”

Max Davies, Bristol Road South, Northfield: “I’ve been here for seven years, but my family has been running Tays Corner for over 40 years.”

Graham Littlewood, nighttime hot food merchant on Kent Street for 20 years: “We currently have no idea what the board’s thoughts are apart from a survey that is now over and a letter to say when we are all out of work the end of March! “

Graham Parsons, The Potato Man, Lower Temple Street: “The amount paid to BCC every month is £ 643. I operate from a £ 36,000 catering unit representing an old-fashioned tram. The unit was purchased seven years ago. after the last consultation with BCC on Street Trading “.



The Potato Man stall had to move again from the top of Lower Temple Street to New Street because nearby roadworks returned after the German market. Traders say the board wants them to move their stalls every day, but there are other consultations going on about limiting vehicles between 7:00 and 19:00.
The Potato Man stall had to move again from the top of Lower Temple Street to New Street because nearby roadworks returned after the German market. Traders say the board wants them to move their stalls every day, but there are other consultations going on about limiting vehicles between 7:00 and 19:00.

Carl O’Connor and Ben Fisher – Habanero’s Temple Row: “We have been trading here since March 2013, having taken the place of a previous launch traded here for 27 years.”

Lakhbir ‘Tony’ Aujla, Broad Street hot food retailer and also outside Villa Park on match days: “I have been trading since 1981. I completed the online consultation form, but found it difficult to navigate. I found it weighted by the comment suggestions if I disagree on a question, but no feedback if I agree with a question.

“The consultation did not consult us, the people whose livelihoods are at risk, before opening up to the public.”

Samantha and Allan Poole: “We are the only store in the city center that sells tourist souvenirs, Birmingham does not even have tourist information, we have doubled for years, we also have our souvenirs made especially for us and import them ourselves”.

Presentation of quality control



Allan Poole, president of the Birmingham Street Traders Association, says stalls like this outside the Britannia Hotel on New Street should be removed every day - and staff could only serve as
Allan Poole, president of the Birmingham Street Traders Association, says stalls like this outside the Britannia Hotel on New Street should be removed every day – and staff could only serve as “inside the box”

Charalambides sent a ten-page document “for and on behalf of the Birmingham Street Traders Association” to Sajeela Naseer, responsible for commercial and market standards.

Indicates nine key points on the “street trade consent scheme” of the city council under local government law 4 of 1982 (miscellaneous provisions) – pointing out that “many BSTA members have been exchanged since before the adoption of 1982 they act and are the third or fourth generation of their family to do it in their fields. “

The document then lists “ten legal concerns (related to) fundamental rights and duties” and challenges new plans through the prism of various EU policies that are still relevant during the post-Brexit transition period in the UK.

Charalambides concludes: “Any future street trade policy should both recognize and protect established traders while providing an opportunity to improve growth and the next generation of traders.”

A final section called Moving Forward has eight bullet points that summarize the BMTA’s requests.

They range from calls for proposals on how the City Council intends to recognize and protect the interest of established traders, to proposals on how the City Council intends to fulfill its obligations under the 1998 Human Rights Law and the 2009 Services Regulation. in compliance with the consent regime on street trade “.

Read more

Bull ring markets

“Crisis” markets

In February 2020, BirminghamLive revealed how:

  • Some experts fear that the city’s 854-year ring ring markets may not collectively last beyond the following year;
  • Just as the city got ready to promote itself for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, preparing to spend £ 25 million to reshape the “public realm” of Victoria Square, New Street and more, the traditional much loved heart of the city of Bull Ring Open Market, Rag Market and Indoor Market have many empty stalls.

But that’s not all bad, even for stall owners who admit they face big challenges.

We also told stories of merchants like Sarah Roberts and her uncle Mark Burrows who insist that Rag Market is still a great place to find bargains – as well as the warmth of human kindness through service with a smile.



Sarah Roberts and uncle Mark Burrows have loved trading on the Bull Ring Market for years
Sarah Roberts and uncle Mark Burrows have loved trading on the Bull Ring Rag Market for years

Sarah said: “We do much more than sell goods, we are also a cure in community service.

“Older people get close and love to talk to us. Even people with special needs come, the most vulnerable members of society.

“We are like a big family that looks at each other.”

When asked about the future of the Bull Ring Markets, the Birmingham City Council told BirminghamLive on February 1: “The council is fully committed to the Bull Ring Markets and continues to support traders in all three sites, particularly as we pass to the new development of Smithfield, in which the markets will remain a vital part of the offer “.

But the leader of the Street Traders Association Allan Poole, who had the market insect as a young man who worked for his father who sold flowers in the old Bull Ring Market, said he could not face the transfer to any of the current markets. outdoors, Rag Market or Edgbaston Street covered market sites must have lost their current pace on New Street.

“I wouldn’t trade there even if I was given the free rent,” said Allan.

“The council let them go and there is just no step to justify their presence.”

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