Burger vans threatened by Northampton fee rise plan

Street food traders could be threatened by Northampton Borough Council proposals to up fees for pitches
Street food traders could be threatened by Northampton Borough Council proposals to up fees for pitches

Fast food street traders may disappear from industrial estates and parks if pitch fees are revised upwards, councillors fear.

The new rates may affect burger vans and sandwich sellers serving lunches to industrial estate workers and ice cream stalls serving park visitors from next April..

It comes after Northampton Borough Council officers, looking for ways to save Guildhall cash, moved to close the gap between its relatively lenient fees on its 24 town pitches and those of other councils in the region.

But disquiet was voiced tonight by senior members at the council’s licensing committee.

Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib Dem, Kingsthorpe) said: “I just feel it’s the wrong time to be doing this.

“We have just recently reduced the fees payable on pitches in the Market Square, so we can’t justify hitting these other traders like this.

“Either prices will have to go up, impacting on customers pockets, or, if they can’t afford to keep going, the public will lose the facility altogether.”

A council officer’s report also acknowledged that certain traders could be put out of business.

Louise Faulkner, senior licensing officer, said: “In the current economic climate and with some traders already deciding to reduce the number of days trading, it is a high possibility that the increase in fees will result in a decrease in the number of financially viable locations.”

She added: “This could result in a shortfall in the council’s expected income.”

The proposals would see more charged for seasonal ‘premium’ pitches in Northampton town centre, where there are currently no regular street traders.

However the report identified two existing pitches on Park Avenue South that would have the maximum fees levied on traders there because they would be within 15 metres of a park, which would also be a premium site under the planned system.

Councillors Winston Strachan (Lab, St Crispin) and Terry Wire (Lab, St James) advised caution because of the possible knock-on effects on businesses, but the committee voted to send the plan to a consultation.

The results will be considered by the licensing committee at a later date, with members then recommending a course of action to the Guildhall cabinet.