Street battle for traders

GOVERNMENT ministers have warned they can't find the time to take action against "Del Boy-style" traders who have been blighting Ipswich town centre recently.

GOVERNMENT ministers have warned they can't find the time to take action against "Del Boy-style" traders who have been blighting Ipswich town centre recently.

The town's MP has asked ministers to introduce new legislation to cut down on the activities of "peddlers" who have been causing fury among more established traders in the town.

They sell everything from cheap children's toys to cards – and have been accused of taking business away from more established enterprises.

"This is getting past a joke. There are just too many of them – they're bending the rules to such a degree that it's passed a joke," one market trader said.

"They don't pay anything to anyone – we have to pay a rent for our pitch here – and they just roll up and take our business away.

"Just before Mother's Day we had someone come up and park a stall at the end of our row which has the card stall in it.

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"He was undercutting the prices on the legitimate stall and people had to push past him to reach the market – it was no joke!"

The street traders operate as peddlers under legislation passed in the 19th century.

This gives them the right to purchase a "Peddlers' Licence" which gives them permission to operate anywhere in the country.

According to the terms of the licence, they cannot set up a stall, and they have to keep moving except when making a sale.

However market traders believe the "peddlers" are not obeying these rules – except when borough council officers turn up to enforce the regulations.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole has taken up the problem with ministers, but was not encouraged by their response.

"It's got beyond a joke. I was in the town centre the other day and they seemed to have set up their pitches every few yards – it's especially bad near the Cornhill.

"I've contacted ministers about this, but I've been told they don't have the time in the legislative schedule for new legislation."

Mr Mole said many MPs felt that the Victorian legislation governing peddlers needed to be changed.

"It needs to be tightened up considerably, but there's no immediate prospect of that happening," he said.

A spokesman for Ipswich council said there was nothing more that could be done until there was a change in the law.

"We do monitor the situation, but these people are well versed in legislation as it affects peddlers," he said.

The peddlers themselves feel they are only offering shoppers more choice in the town centre.

"We are doing a bit of business for ourselves," one said. "The big stores must have more to worry about than what we're doing."

nShould action be taken against peddlers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

Three types of trader on the streets of Ipswich:

Market Traders – part of Ipswich Market which operates every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday on the Cornhill.

They have to pay rent for their pitch, and electricity is laid on to the stalls.

Street Traders – They are licenced by the borough council and have a fixed pitch. They can operate every day of the week. These include popular stalls like the Hot Sausage Stall and Hot Potato Stall as well as various flower stalls.

Peddlers – operate on a peddlers licence, issued by the police. A single peddlers' licence authorises the holder to work anywhere in Britain.

They cannot have a stall and have to move between making sales.

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