06/10/2004

Major clampdown on illegal street traders

A major clampdown on illegal street trading in Belfast city centre is on the way, the Lord Mayor of Belfast announced today.

Councillor Tom Ekin said the decision was prompted following information he had received from the Government which revealed that in some instances stalls are providing income for organised crime thus costing legitimate businesses millions of pounds every year.

In response, the chairman of the council’s Health and Environmental Services Committee, Councillor Jim Clarke, has revealed that a sustained and concerted effort to remove the illegal traders from the streets will get underway within the next few weeks.

Councillor Ekin said: “Belfast City Council accepts that street trading can add to the vibrancy of the shopping experience and provide a valuable service to customers, provided it is regulated and conducted in the right places.

“That is why the council has designated 48 pitches in the city, with some licences already issued, but has decided that some sites or streets are unsuitable, including Royal Avenue and Donegall Place.”

Councillor Clarke added: “The fact that we have seized over £1 million worth of goods, including catering trailers, stalls, food and counterfeit goods shows that we have not been idle in dealing with this problem. However, I believe we need to come down even harder.

“We are currently working closely with the police, the Chamber of Trade, Belfast City Centre Management and other relevant statutory agencies and, within the next few weeks, we will be launching a concerted and sustained effort to finally rid Belfast city centre of this problem once and for all.”

(MB)

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