Members of the public are being asked to make their views known on possible legislative changes that could make it easier for small stallholders to move into town centres.
The possible changes to street trading and pedlary laws are prompted by a European Services Directive that seeks to ease restrictions on trade.
The current situation protects shopkeepers by classifying most pedlars as street traders who require a licence from local councils – giving councils the authority to limit their presence.
The possible change would allow pedlars to trade from stalls almost anywhere, so long as their stall was less than 1m by 1m by 2m. They would, however, only stay in one spot for 10 minutes, after which they would then have to move at least 50m. They could not return to the original spot for at least three hours.
Councillor Cheryl Little, Fylde Council cabinet member for Social Wellbeing, said: “The idea of this possible legal change is to allow people to trade with complete freedom within any part of the UK.
“It raises, however, the possibility of teams of itinerant traders moving from spot to spot all the time. Bournemouth, for example, only allows pedlars five minutes – if no-one buys anything or looks at their wares in that time the pedlar has to move on.
“Shopkeepers pay business rates and deserve some protection from people taking their trade away. I also worry that there may be little consumer protection for customers.
“Even so, some aspects of it could be beneficial. Some small stalls may be valuable additions to town centres: it needn’t all be tasteless or low-quality goods. Any food stall would, of course, be subject to existing safety legislation.
“The council’s Public Protection Committee is still considering its position for a government consultation on the matter and we will eventually let the government have our view. The consultation is also open to members of the public and I urge them to have their say.”
People can take part in the consultation by visiting: http://www.licensingresource.co.uk/sites/default/files/12-605rf-street-trading-compliance-with-services-directive-form.doc