Agenda item


Mr Adrian Wood t/a Woody's Fruit & Veg


The Licensing Team Leader, Louis Krog, introduced the report regarding the review of Mr Adrian Wood’s, trading as Woody’s Fruit & Veg, street trading consent.  Mr Wood has had a street trading consent to sell fruit and vegetables from the High Street entrance to the Henrietta Street car park since April 2016. Appendix 1 showed the location of the trading pitch.  The trading location is a mixed used space with a mix of vehicular and pedestrian access.  In July 2016 the council undertook a risk assessment of the location to assess its continued suitability for street trading. A copy of the risk assessment was attached at Appendix 2.  The risk assessment highlighted risks associated with the mixed use nature of the location and as a consequence, officers considered it appropriate to seek a review of the suitability of this location for the purpose of street trading. In addition, the location had also resulted in noise complaints from local residents, complaints about the use of Mr Wood’s van restricting access to the car park, the trading location restricting access to the bicycle racks located near the car park entrance and difficulties associated with commercial licences since Mr Wood was occupying Cheltenham Borough Council owned land. 


The Officer continued that prior to his current location Mr Wood had two trading pitches, one on Church Street and one on the High Street, which had proved unsuitable for the type of operation and thus Mr Wood had consolidated into one trading location.  The Officer informed members that as of today, the day of the meeting, he had been advised that the area to the side of the disused toilet block on the corner of Ambrose Street was available for Mr Wood.


The Officer advised the committee to consider whether to revoke the consent with immediate effect if they felt it no longer a safe place to trade from or to take no further action.


In reply to questions from members the Officer confirmed that members could leave the consent in place and add conditions or they could defer if they so wished.  He advised that there had not been any accidents relating to that trading pitch in the last nine months since Mr Wood had been there and that the risk assessment was based on the opinion of a professional Health and Safety Officer. 


Mr Richard Knightley was in attendance representing Mr Adrian Wood who was also present.  The Chair invited Mr Knightley to speak in support of the review.  Mr Knightley informed members that Mr Wood had been running a successful family business for many years, originally based in a retail unit on the Lower High Street prior to the development of the Brewery and subsequently on the High Street near the Beechwood Arcade and at Church Street, until both of these became unavailable.  He had been trading near Henrietta Street car park since April 2016 and employed four full time and two part time staff, who would become redundant if Mr Wood had to leave this site with no alternative.  Mr Wood sold healthy produce and other retailers in the area supported Woody’s being at this location as it brought more footfall to this part of the town and benefitted other retailers.  Mr Knightley continued that many letters of support had been received in favour of Woody’s remaining at this site from businesses in the area, the St Paul’s Residents Association and the local MP.  Mr Knightley confirmed that they had been working with the council and were in discussion about the removal of the bike racks, the closure of one entrance to the car park, making it pedestrian access and the provision of planters and said that Mr Wood was happy to pay for this and eradicate any perceived risk, but that he needed assurance from the council that having invested in this he would be allowed to stay.


Mr Knightley added that he felt the risks as set out in the risk assessment were over emphasised and that the fruit and veg stall was no further forward than the bike racks which they had been promised would be removed since Mr Wood first started trading there.  He continued that the van was parked in the car park at a cost of £16.50 a day once it had unloaded and did not restrict access to the car park.  He further added that all recycling went to Biffa, so nothing was left on site and it was cleared on a daily basis. 


Mr Knightley said he hadn’t been aware of the Ambrose Street option becoming a possibility.  However he felt that the pitch which was alongside the disused toilet block was not physically workable at present as  there was a telephone box, bike racks and even less space for a van to unload.  It was also further down the High Street which was not favourable and a lot of money would need to be spent to improve this location, which they felt was worse than the present location.   Woody’s would rather pay the improvement costs to stay where they were.  He stressed they were happy to have ongoing discussions and stay in-situ until something else was sorted if that became necessary.


The Licensing Officer circulated a plan drawn up by the Council’s public realm team of the proposed improved scheme for the present location, which included new planters to stop vehicles, the removal of the bike racks and marking of the limit of the pitch.


The Chair proceeded to invite Jon Walklett, councillor for the St Paul’s ward to address the committee.   Councillor Walklett praised Woody’s for being the only sellers of fresh fruit and veg in that part of town enabling low income families to purchase healthy produce and reiterating that Woody’s brought trade in to that area.  He felt the risk assessment was overblown as all car parks had some element of danger and pointed out that due to the location cars approached this area more slowly in any case.  He referred to the complaint by local residents of noise and informed the committee that he had door knocked over 30 local residents and no one had complained about noise.   Councillor Walklett expressed his view that to revoke without reconsideration was not acceptable and asked the committee to take no further action.


A member asked Mr Wood if he had been aware of the risk assessment taking place, to which he replied he hadn’t been, it had just happened.  Mr Wood continued that he thought he was doing okay in this new location.  He unloaded between 7-7.30am, by 8am the van was parked in the car park.  He knew there had been concern about the stock van and packing up at night, but this hadn’t been helped by the non-removal of the bike racks and bollard, which were still there 9 months after he occupied this site.  He felt he didn’t exceed his pitch size, but would be happy with white lines to mark his pitch and said he paid the increased pitch rental.


Mr Knightley concluded that Woody’s would prefer to stay where it was and to work together with the council on the proposed improvement scheme which was a good solution to something that was not really a problem.  They would be happy to pay costs and if necessary would be willing to look at alternatives.


Members discussed whether to defer pending ongoing discussions on Ambrose Street or another location for Mr Wood or until the proposed changes to the present site were made and to come back to committee in 3 months’ time.    Some members felt deferment would create more uncertainty for Mr Wood and stated they were happy for him to remain where he was and to continue trading whilst alterations were going on.   One or two members felt that the risk assessment was wrong and that the odds for an incident were low. Others were concerned as the council could be liable as it was their land.  One member was concerned about the management of the pitch but was assured by the applicant that this site was better kept.   In general members supported the proposals put forward to enhance the safety of the area and thought this was a good solution.  It was suggested to recommend that Property Services be asked to make it safe and the Licensing Officer pointed out that the scheme would require planning consent which he didn’t know how long it would take for this to be granted.   It was confirmed that Mr Wood’s licence was renewed every 12 months and would be due for renewal in April, so the matter would come back to committee then, but meanwhile to ask officers to work with Mr Wood to address some of the issues.


The Chair moved to vote on 1.5.1 of the report, being that no further action be taken in relation to this consent.


Upon a vote it was 5 for, 0 against, 3 abstentions.


RESOLVED THAT, no further action be taken in relation to Mr Adrian Wood t/a Woody’s Fruit & Veg street trading consent and that he continue to work with officers to reduce risk.

Supporting documents: