Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The latest London crime wave...

... "tacky trinket stalls."

The Evening Standard reports on a plan to crack down on "tacky trinket stalls, scruffy-looking pitches and kiss-me-quick tat." The Westminster council wants the power to prevent stall operators from passing pitches on to their children - reversing a centuries-old tradition.

Records show stalls have been in the West End since the 16th century, with Shakespeare referring to "costermongers". Wally Watson, chairman of West End Street Traders, said the stalls in Oxford Street had been there for at least 200 years. The City of Westminister Bill would give new powers for council officers to refuse a street trading licence, and give them greater control over location of stalls. It would also end the right of appeal to Crown Court in cases of disputes.
Street sellers actually helped make Shakespeare famous. His plays had faded from public consciousness a century after his death, and a discounting war, in which dueling publishers pushed his plays to street hawkers for a penny a copy, helped revive his popularity in the 1730s.

Note what a Mark Impleton, a waffle seller who has run his stall for 27 years, told the Standard:
"All the huts we operate from are shabby and rotting but the council will not give us planning permission to update them or change them. Meanwhile they complain that we look shabby. What do they expect us to do? It's a vicious circle."

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