Council fines Church Street traders after promising not to

Church Street market traders have been given numerous fines from Westminster Council – despite council bosses previously granting them exemption from road restrictions.

Stallholders operating at the Saturday market were told by the council they would be able to reverse past the No Entry signs in Church Street to pack up their stalls at the end of the day – and they had done so without incident for a number of years.

But traders have started receiving penalty charge notices from the council after its CCTV cameras went live.

More than 20 traders are thought to have been affected with some stallholders given up to five tickets.

Special dispensation had been awarded to traders after a one-way traffic system was introduced in Church Street a number of years ago.

At the time it became apparent that one end of the road quickly became blocked with stallholders’ vehicles which made it impossible for other traders to pass the correct way down the road.

Bekim Gashi, who has run a stall at the market for 12 years, says the fines – which have so far not been rescinded on appeal – have left him with no viable way of continuing to trade.

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“I can’t reverse back into the road because then I get a fine,” he said.

“I can’t park at the front of the market because it’s a double yellow line so that will get me a fine.

“If I wait until 6pm for the road to be clear, I will get in trouble with the market inspector for not removing my stall on time – and I could lose my trading licence.

“What do they want me to do?”

The traders’ plight has received the support of Westminster Council-employed market manager Peter MacDonald who has written a letter to the council stating that “contravening the no entry sign” is the only way some traders can access their stalls.

He confirms that traders were given special dispensation to load and unload their stalls on Saturday afternoons after meetings were held between management and parking services.

He said: “I therefore hope that on this occasion common sense prevails and the penalty notices will be cancelled”.

A Westminster Council spokesman said it could not comment until any appeal process has been completed but it would look at any cases on individual merit.