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Birmingham street traders ‘gutted’ to lose challenge against ‘flawed’ council rules

Birmingham street traders are “gutted” after a judge dismissed their legal challenge to a controversial city council street trading policy.

Allan and Samantha Poole of Birmingham Street Traders’ Association were granted permission for judicial review of the Birmingham City Council policy, which was held over two days in the High Court last month.

Their challenge partly took issue with a new criterion for “innovative products” not available elsewhere on the high street.

Mr and Mrs Poole have warned the innovative products criterion will put traders at a disadvantage against big high street chains.

But a judgement handed down by His Honour Judge David Cooke found in favour of Birmingham City Council and dismissed the review.

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The judgement states the innovative products criterion “is evidently relevant to the stated aim to ‘provide quality consumer choice'” and rejected arguments it is unlawful.

Samantha Poole said: “We are gutted. We are disappointed with the judgement handed down by the judge.

“We have got to take stock and decide what we are going to do going forward.”

Dan Rosenberg from Simpson Millar, who represented the Birmingham Street Traders Association, said: “Our clients are understandably very disappointed by the decision handed down this morning.

“For many of the Birmingham street traders who supported this case the new rules make the reality of retaining their stalls, where some have made their livelihoods for many decades, totally untenable.

“We are now working with our clients to consider their options and to determine any next steps.”

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the High Court has dismissed this judicial review in its entirety and has not given leave to appeal.

“This judgement confirms that our plans were developed in the correct way – this street trading policy is needed to ensure that we have the best possible trading environment for stallholders and customers alike across Birmingham.

“We hope this new policy continues to benefit consumers and businesses alike, opening up the opportunities available for street traders across the city.”

At the hearing on April 8 – the second and final day of the hearing – Jonathan Manning representing Birmingham City Council, denied the policy was intended to bring about a “gentrified offer”.

He gave the example of a burger van which could you “still innovate within the burger market” by selling goods which were “more diverse” than those previously on sale.

Sarah Sackman, representing the street traders, argued “just because an authority says something does not have an economic aim, does not mean that it does not”.

She said the council wants to move from a “‘lower quality’ limited range to a higher quality and expanded range. That’s part of its aim.”

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