Chatsworth Road trader told to pay up to £455 for licence to sell on land he says is his
- Credit: Holly Chant
A Hackney trader was surprised to learn the council will be charging him extra to sell goods outside his shop, despite never having purchased a licence before.
Tim Sanderson, who owns an antique furniture shop on Chatsworth Road called Sweet Interiors, says he has never had to pay to keep goods outside his shop in nearly a decade of trading.
All along Chatsworth Road, the pavement area has a marked dividing line between council owned and private land.
Tim said: "I really don’t understand where they think they have the power to charge me to put things outside my shop, on land which is part of my shop - it's not part of council land.
"How they think they have the jurisdiction over that I have no idea, because If that [area] got frost damaged over the winter I couldn't ring up Hackney Council and say: 'Can you come and mend this please?'
"Because they would say no, it doesn’t belong to us."
In a recent letter sent to Tim, and other Hackney shop owners, the council's markets authority stated: "Private land is not exempt from the requirement to have a Street Trading Licence".
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The council, under Section 21 of the London Local Authorities act 1990, considers street trading to be taking place on any road, footway or area, "not being permanently enclosed premises, within seven metres of any road or footway, to which the public have access without payment".
This means restaurants with seating areas and shops with benches, baskets, bags, boxes and even signs will all need to pay for a license, whether they have or have not done so previously.
While fees for shop front trading have remained unchanged since 2010, the council said in its letter to Tim, that there has been some "confusion and ambiguity" over the rules.
Fees would see traders spending £364-455 ever six months to sell goods outside their shops.
Tim said: "For a start we are deeply upset that it's at the end of the lockdown and now they are proposing, on top of our business rates, to charge us for selling outside our shops, which the shops on this street have traditionally done since they were built in about 1880."
The council says it sent out documents to all "license holders" regarding a public consultation in November 2019 and that the new terms and conditions for street trading are meant to provide more clarity.
It proposed to update street and shop front trading fees and charges due to increased running costs of the borough's markets, including waste management, infrastructure costs and storage costs.
However, Tim says he was never sent the consultation as he is not currently a license holder, despite his business being affected by the changes.
Tim said of the consultation: "This is the first I have heard about it, ever. So I am not quite sure who it went out for a consultation with because it certainly did not involve shop keepers, but it will directly effect us."
He worries the fees will change the "entire feel of the street" and plans to start a petition to oppose the plans which are to be implemented on July 1.
In response to concerns about Street Trading fees, the council's inclusive economy chief Cllr Guy Nicholson said: “Shop owners and anyone wishing to trade on the pavement have always been required by law to purchase a licence.
"The proposed changes were sent to all license holders at their registered address with the invitation to comment. The new approach introduces a fairer per square metre fee instead of the flat fees previously in place which means a licence holder only pays for the space they use."
The councillor continued: “It must also be stressed that Hackney’s shop front charges remain significantly cheaper than most other London boroughs, including the neighbouring boroughs of Haringey, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest."
However, a spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council says it does not charge businesses for shop front projections on the businesses own land, adding: "We do not charge this at all".
They objected to Cllr Nicholson implying that Tower Hamlets and Hackney Council's rates were comparable due to this difference in shop front charges.
Still, Hackney council says it has been supporting the local business community during the pandemic by making sure that more than £50million of recent business support grants have been distributed, as well as working with businesses to maximise the trading opportunities.