Rogue traders fears for Sheffield

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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.