Crackdown on illegal traders

ILLEGALLY trading peddlers on Ipswich streets are on the receiving end of a redoubled clampdown.The clampdown coincides with the increasing anger of the town's long-term market traders – who say they are losing business to the peddlers.

ILLEGALLY trading peddlers on Ipswich streets are on the receiving end of a redoubled clampdown.

The clampdown coincides with the increasing anger of the town's long-term market traders – who say they are losing business to the peddlers.

From watches to mobile phone covers to dancing Santas, all manner of gift ideas are being peddled from mobile stalls in the run-up to Christmas.

Although the peddlers may have a licence to sell their wares, the licence is only valid if they are constantly moving.

But many peddlers are hardly moving around at all.

This is frustrating the established market traders, who pay a far more substantial licence fee.

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They say the peddlers are stationing themselves right in prime position on the high street.

Kevin Chilvers, 49, of Ipswich market's Mobile Accessories stall, said: "I feel there is something unjust that we pay our rent to be here, but the street peddlers pay just £12 a year and they can walk up and down the street in prime position.

"A lot of people walk along the street and bump into the peddlers, but they don't come down to the market."

Market trader Michael Ranson, 46, of Mike's Accessories, added: "We all find it irritating. We had the same problem last year. Every Christmas they come here and they take our sales.

"They are in the middle of the street – the best position. It is worse if they are not moving – they should be."

But police officers and Ipswich Borough Council officials are swooping on the peddlers and warning them to keep on moving.

An Evening Star reporter joined the rounds.

On Tuesday alone, Bob Bennett - the borough council's enforcement officer for street trading – stopped around 12 to 13 peddlers.

All of them had licences, but all of them were stationary.

He said: "They have to keep moving. They are only meant to stop of they are making a sale.

"The majority of them just move a few yards and then just stop and think that is enough. But it is not.

"If you are not selling, you should be moving. If you are not moving, you need a street trading licence.

"The majority of them have a peddler's licence, but they trading not as peddlers but as street traders.

"It is causing a lot of friction between them and the market traders. They are also causing an obstruction.

"We will get evidence from CCTV and if they persist [in flouting the law], we will prosecute if necessary."

Helen Buckingham, commercial services manager for Ipswich Borough Council, said although this was a year-round operation, patrols are currently being stepped up.

She said: "We think it has gone beyond what is reasonable and we are stepping up reinforcement.

"Our market traders are having a bit of a hard time of it as are the shop premises.

"They are having to pay to trade, but they are being stopped by people who haven't paid [for a street trading licence] and are selling stuff that is sometimes below quality and to which customers have no comeback."

A peddler found to be trading illegally could face up to of six months in prison or a £2,000 fine.

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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