City of London to use £268k to clamp down on peanut sellers

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Eagle-eyed licensing officers will be patrolling some of central London’s most famous bridges in a bid to stop illegal traders peddling their wares.

A pilot scheme will be extended to clamp down on unlicensed traders selling peanuts, ice cream and even picture frames to tourists on London Bridge and four other crossings.

The move comes after the City of London’s team confiscated 26 carts selling refreshments on the bridges over the last two years.

And fines handed down by the courts saw  unlicensed traders shell out £1,903, plus a further £4,512 in costs.

The team also dished out 365 formal warnings and prosecuted 18 people over the last two years.

They also disrupted 325 illegal gambling operations, 235 pickpockets and 370 buskers and handed intelligence to police.

The pilot cost £127,000 over the last two years, which includes £2,000 for bodycams.

The Corporation’s policy and resources committee unanimously approved £268,000 funds for the next two years, which includes an extra licensing officer.

A report for councillors said: “Illegal traders are co-ordinated, opportunistic and swiftly adapt to patterns of enforcement necessitating evening and weekend operations as well as those undertaken in the normal working week.”

Until recently a legal loophole meant enforcement officers were powerless to stop traders on the south side of Millennium and London Bridges and any part of Tower Bridge as they are outside of the City of London boundary, even though its Bridge Trust Estates owns the bridges.

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And matters were further complicated as Transport for London  is the highway authority for Tower Bridge, London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge.

The City had control over the north halves of Southwark and Millennium Bridge whilst Southwark council has control of the south halves.

It meant peanut sellers played a game of “cat and mouse” with enforcement until the councils decided to try a new approach.

Some traders have previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service they would welcome licences.

Southwark and Tower Hamlets councils licensed ice cream and hot dog stalls around Tower Bridge and Bankside. However the Corporation said illegal traders were undeterred.

The policy and resources committee also agreed £56,000 extra funding for policing the bridges from the Corporation’s City House Estates to £298,000 a year.

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