Birmingham Street Traders take City Council to Court over Trading Policy

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Dan Rosenberg

Partner, Education & Public Law Solicitor

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Birmingham street traders have been granted permission to take the City Council to court over its controversial new Street Trading Policy which campaigners say will cause ‘irreparable damage to the soul of the City’.

The legal case is being brought by Allan and Samantha Poole, chair and secretary respectively of the Birmingham Street Traders Association, and comes amidst ongoing concern that the new rules pose an ‘existential threat’ to the livelihoods of stallholders who have been operating in the local area for many decades.  

At the hearing, which is expected to take place at the High Court this spring, public law experts at Simpson Millar will directly challenge the Council’s policy which requires street stalls to sell ‘innovative products’ which it defines as ‘goods that are not regularly available within the high street market place’.

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Lawyers will also argue that many existing stall holders who have been in place for decades offering popular, traditional market products, may lose their pitch as part of the newly introduced annual application process, as well as being at the mercy of what retail shops chose to do each time they applied to renew.

The move follows multiple efforts by BSTA to help address ‘the worst of the concerns’ regarding the policy, which also includes restrictions around signage, as well as the layout and design of the stalls and other conditions, were rejected by the Council.

Dan Rosenberg, a Public Law Solicitor at Simpson Millar who is representing the independent traders said, “While it is disappointing that the concerns raised by my clients repeatedly have gone unaddressed, we are grateful to have been granted permission for the matter to now be heard in Court.

“Street traders have been a fixture of Birmingham’s streets for many years, and members of the association are some of the longest standing members of that business community – some selling hot meals including jacket potatoes or Mexican food, and others selling seasonal goods such as umbrellas, hats, scarfs and gloves.

“In some cases, the stall owners we represent have been operating in the local area for many decades, during which time they have built a significant, loyal customer base.

“For almost all of them their job is a part of their identity, and many of them come from families that have a history of market trading for generations. 

“Despite all of these businesses proving viable before the pandemic, there is a risk that they will be caught by the new criteria of requiring innovative products, and many are now gravely concerned about the continual uncertainty as to whether they will lose their pitches as part of the newly introduced annual review.”

The court case is being spearheaded by independent florists and tourist souvenirs sellers Allan and Samantha Poole who had been operating in the City for almost half a century.

Commenting on the case they said: “We have tried time and time again to engage the Council in meaningful conversation about the new policy, which if implemented would have a hugely detrimental impact on the sustainability of Birmingham-based street traders.

“Their actions will cause irreparable damage to the soul of our City and threaten the livelihoods of many long-standing stallholders.

“We are very sad to have reached a position where we are forced to have our case heard in court, but we feel we have no choice. It is now a matter for a Judge to decide.”

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