NCASS is calling on more Local Authorities to work with them to re-evaulate street trading policies after a swift collaboration with East Cambridgeshire Council enabled street food businesses to legally trade over the busy Easter weekend.
Mobile caterers and pubs in the area received a last–minute reprieve for their weekends trading after the Local Authority worked with NCASS to find a workable solution that would enable businesses to be licenced to trade – and not in fear of enforcement during what has been a challenging time for small and independent hospitality businesses.
The businesses had been operating with permission from a number of pub car parks in rural east Cambridgeshire as takeaways and hoped to support the gradual re-opening of hospitality premises and earn a living. However, this put both the pubs and the catering businesses on the wrong side of local regulation – which the council are obliged to enforce.
The situation became apparent when pubs that street food traders were collaborating with received letters from the local authority stating that they were allowing “unlicenced street trading.” NCASS was then notified of the issue.
The council licencing department came up with a last–minute solution based around day trading that would allow businesses to trade as planned until new measures could be put in place that would enable safe and legal street food, whilst also protecting the public from unlicenced and potentially unsafe trading. Essentially, NCASS and the local street food collective who have been championing local trading, vouched for the businesses having everything in place that they would need to get a formal licence, in lieu of that process beginning this week. On Thursday afternoon the affected businesses got a call to confirm they were good to trade.
One of the businesses affected included Waffle+Co. Founders Ana Hayter and Tori May commented: “After such a difficult year, we are so pleased to now be working collaboratively with East Cambridge County Council to be able to trade from our vintage food truck.
“Enabling the community to enjoy a safe and exciting way to experience good street food is something we are really passionate about. We pride ourselves on the quality of our sweet and savoury waffles and our Covid-safe procedures.
“It’s great news that a solution has been agreed and we look forward to many exciting street food opportunities for the people of East Cambridgeshire to enjoy in the future.”
Mark Laurie, director at NCASS, added: “We asked East Cambridgeshire to show understanding and flexibility and that is exactly what they did, in the nick of time as well. We are due to sit down with East Cambridge Licencing department next week, along with Food Park, to discuss ways to modernise their street trading policy to meet the demands of the food truck and street food sector.”
Senior Licencing officer Stewart Broome, said “East Cambridgeshire District Council prides itself on listening to the concerns of its residents and businesses, and will be reviewing its current street trading policy to ensure it remains fit for purpose, and reflective of the needs of our businesses and their customers, whilst protecting the amenity of residents in any given area.”
Changes of approach by local authorities could be vital in saving thousands of micro businesses who were left without anywhere to trade when outdoor events shut in March 2020. As their food businesses are mobile, they paid no business rates directly and missed out on government support for the hospitality industry.
The new–found flexibility in street trading rules within East Cambridgeshire Council come as Ministers Scully & Huddlestone sent a letter to local authority heads across the UK this week, highlighting the predicament of mobile and events businesses (amongst others) that the Local authorities could look to support through discretionary grants – but also highlighted a shift in government policy towards such activities.
The letter, stated: ‘We are calling on you (local authorities) to be as flexible as possible in enabling pubs, cafes and restaurants to open outdoor seating areas and host outdoor events in a Covid-secure manner, as the Local Government Secretary stressed in his letter in March.
“This will keep cash flowing to these businesses in the short term and support our long-term recovery from the pandemic as we re–open and kick start the economy again.”
NCASS is working closely with Cambridgeshire based street food collective Food Park to enable street trading in the region, as well representatives within Government to enable as many opportunities as possible in the coming months for independent hospitality businesses severely impacted by Covid.
We are calling for more local authorities to embrace street food and mobile hospitality as a means to support businesses, but also, re-invigorate town and city centres as the country unlocks from Covid.
For more information, contact Mark Laurie at [email protected].