Labour Councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council’s Licensing Committee used their votes last night to reject the Conservatives’ call for a wholesale review of the Council’s street trading policy. In response to concerns raised by local businesses, the Conservatives had previously tabled a request asking that the zones where street traders could operate be reviewed. Labour had originally supported that request but in a U-turn last night, they decided to ignore the pleas of local businesses.
Conservative Licensing Committee member Cllr Lee Wares said “I am very disappointed that Labour decided to throw out our proposed review of street trading. It was obvious that officers did not want to do the review and they won the day over Labour Councillors; I guess we saw last night who is really running the City. Street traders can operate, whilst making no financial contribution to the City, right next to businesses that pay business rates and rents. It simply isn’t fair. The policy, which is supposed to protect local businesses, is flawed – we all know it, but Labour are just not interested.”
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Tony Janio, who was a substitute member of the Committee last night, said: “In all my years as a Councillor I have rarely seen a Committee meeting as surreal and chaotic as this. Things we thought we had agreed beforehand were changed at the last minute and the whole atmosphere of the meeting was very unprofessional. This is no way to run a Council, particularly when we are deciding on issues that affect people’s businesses and livelihoods. I would say it is bordering on the dysfunctional.”
Cllr Wares added “Labour couldn’t even agree with our proposal that street traders should not be able to park their vans on double yellow lines. Residents will no doubt be very surprised to learn that this is allowed to happen under the current policy. Instead, Labour want to consult with street traders first! Double yellow lines are there for a good reason – road safety – something that seems to have escaped the Labour Party.”