Bradley Stoke Mayor Brian Hopkinson’s plan to see multiple food traders in the car parks of the town council’s three community centres suffered a serious setback during April after two key votes went against him.
Cllr Hopkinson has been strongly promoting the idea since it was first raised at the council’s Strategic Planning Meeting last September and it was unanimously supported by the Finance Committee in October 2013, where it was noted that having multiple operators would be “beneficial for the area, offering residents a wider choice of multi-cultural takeaway food facilities within the town, at the same time as offering an extra income stream for the council”.
As reported in the April edition of the Journal magazine, Santiago Pablo, owner of Papas Pizzas, was recently granted a permit by the town council to trade on four evenings a week in the car park of the Brook Way Activity Centre, potentially making him the second operator to trade at that site. However, Mr Pablo subsequently withdrew his application for the necessary street trading licence after learning that he would also have to foot the £385 bill for a ‘change of use’ planning application, arguing that he believed the town council should pay the fee.
When the question of ‘change of use’ planning application charges came before the town council’s Finance Committee last month, Cllr Hopkinson argued that, as it was the council’s agreed policy to allow two traders at each site, it was “hardly fair” to expect new traders to be responsible for acquiring planning permission. “If this goes ahead, we will be getting some good income that will very quickly cover the cost of the planning applications”, he added.
Noting that town councils receive a 50 per cent discount on planning application fees, he urged councillors to underwrite the cost of ‘change of use’ planning applications for all three of the sites, “for less than £600 in total”.
Arguing against the Mayor’s suggestion, Cllr Ben Walker pointed out that food traders on non-council sites in the town, such as Muzzy’s Kebabs and Snack in the Mouth, hadn’t had their planning application fees paid by the council and questioned why the council was “advertising itself as a mobile [food trader] carnival”.
Cllr Andy Ward pointed out that Bradley Stoke is unusual in that it doesn’t have a traditional high street and, as a consequence, has only “expensive” retail units available to food traders. However, he saw the planning application fee as a “normal business start-up expense” that potential traders should expect to pay.
When it came to a decision, Cllr Hopkinson’s proposal that the council should pay the planning application fee for all three sites was lost by two votes to four.
Describing the decision as “crazy”, Cllr Hopkinson reacted angrily, saying: “If this goes on for more than another couple of months, I’ll come back to council with a proposal to get rid of the traders altogether.”
A further setback came later in April when the town council’s Planning Committee was asked to consider its response to a street trading licence application from Erkan Cil of Marmaris Kebabs to trade as a second operator in the car park of the Baileys Court Activity Centre, until 11pm on seven nights a week.
Three residents of nearby properties (in Pursey Drive ) attended the meeting and spoke against the application on the grounds that a second trader would result in increased levels of anti-social behaviour. They were supported by Cllr Keith Cranney, who said he was aware of “a lot of discontent” from residents in the surrounding area.
During discussion of the item, councillors raised their own concerns about the application, including the capacity of the car park at Baileys Court (especially during the cricket season), nuisance to neighbours through increased levels of lighting and noise and the applicant’s failure to specify how toilet facilities would be provided for persons working on the unit.
The committee voted to object to the licence application, with four councillors supporting an objection and four abstaining.
Photo: Car park at Baileys Court Activity Centre.
This article originally appeared in the May 2014 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,450 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Related link: Takeaway Food in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)
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