Leader: Set out your stall and face a hefty fine

It is one of the oldest of trading traditions. You display your wares outside your shop, showing them off and drawing in the customers.

Leader: Set out your stall and face a hefty fine

It is one of the oldest of trading traditions. You display your wares outside your shop, showing them off and drawing in the customers.

Throughout the centuries there have never been any problems. But in these days of the health and safety crusade the practice is not seen as a harmless one, but one fraught with risks.

Traders in New Street, Wellington, have received a letter from Telford & Wrekin Council warning them to move their goods off the street, with the threat of a £1,000 fine if they fail to comply.

The council says the displays are "considered as being dangerous to pedestrians."

So far as we are aware, the Princess Royal Hospital has not been swamped with cases of people walking into fruit and veg stalls or getting tangled up in roadside clothes racks. In fact, having made this claim of danger, it is up to the council to come up with the hard evidence to support it.

How many accidents have there been? Have there been any at all?

The danger of tripping over a kerb, stubbing a toe on uneven paving, or accidentally walking into Wellington's town clock, seems at least as likely – or more likely – than suffering injury as a result of attention-seeking streetside displays.

It would be different if New Street had traffic, and people were being squeezed off the pavements. But New Street is pedestrianised, and the aim of pedestrianisation is to liberate such streets and promote street life, taking them above and beyond their role as thoroughfares.

Of course, there has to be a balance, and it is possible to envisage low displays which would be an unacceptable tripping hazard.

But common sense rather than a draconian blanket ban should be the guide, and the council should work with the traders to find a sensible compromise.

See also:

  • Wellington traders forced to remove displays

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