SHEFFIELD Council fears a ‘free-for-all for rogue traders’ if a plan to abolish the Pedlars Act gets the go-ahead.
Traders wanting to sell their wares in Sheffield city currently need to live in Sheffield and be of good character to get a licence.
But Lib Dem business minister Jo Swinson plans to scrap the 140- year-old Act, claiming it would encourage entrepreneurship and increase competition.
Under new rules pedlars would no longer need a certificate from the police and children under the age of 17 would be allowed to trade.
But Labour councillors in Sheffield fear it will result in a ‘free- for-all for rogue traders’.
Councillor Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “This policy would likely encourage a street trade free-for-all.
“Whilst there are some reputable, legal pedlars, we know that many pedlars sell low-quality trinkets and goods and make the high street a less attractive place.
“The last thing rent-paying retailers and shoppers need is our main shopping streets being swamped with such traders.
“At a time when we are working hard to encourage new retailers to come to the city, this policy is a disincentive which could lead to more empty shop units.
“The policy will also make it harder for the council to tackle dishonest traders who rip-off the public and prey on the vulnerable.
“The result could well be that the council has to spend more money to tackle illegal pedlars at a time when we are facing massive government cuts to our budget.
“Recently the council seized thousands of pounds of counterfeit goods after a police operation to crack down on illegal street trading.
“This policy change will lead to more occurrences like this.”
Ms Swinson said: “The changes we’re proposing will help to eliminate barriers to street traders and pedlars by making it easier to trade, boosting retail and helping small traders – including many young entrepreneurs – to expand and grow.”
* The Pedlars Act was introduced in 1871 and requires travelling traders to have a permanent home address where they are working.
* Pedlars need to be issued with a police certificate granting them permission to trade
* The Government is consulting on the plans to abolish the Act until February 15.
* If the Act is abolished a pedlar would have to move to a new site 10 minutes after arriving at a location.