Bun fight over burger van trading outside Stevenage’s Lister Hospital

The Thirst Aid Station just outside Lister Hospital in Stevenage

The Thirst Aid Station just outside Lister Hospital in Stevenage - Credit: Archant

The owner of a burger van trading directly outside a hospital says he has been told to close down, simply because the hospital Trust’s chief executive does not want him there.

Roger Montgomerie with a copy of his trading licence

Roger Montgomerie with a copy of his trading licence - Credit: Archant

Roger Montgomerie first parked outside the Treatment Centre at Lister Hospital on Coreys Mill Lane in Stevenage and began trading from his Thirst Aid Station on March 3.

But he says lengthy consultation with both the East and North Herts NHS Trust – which runs Lister – and Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) prior to this has not prevented a frosty reception.

Mr Montgomerie said: “After six months of consultation with the Trust and Stevenage Borough Council, we were issued with a Street Trading Consent licence [by the council] to be here.

“The first week we were open, Nick Carver [the Trust’s chief executive] phoned the mayor. The council then said we had to close down and came with a letter.

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“We have had various threats from the council saying they are going to impound the vehicle and give us £1,000 fines.”

Mr Montgomerie’s licence does not expire until January 2015, and he has instructed a solicitor to act on his behalf.

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He says his solicitor was told by SBC that the burger van would have to move because Mr Carver did not want it outside his hospital, despite the pitch being on council land, not land owned by the Trust.

A spokesman for Mr Carver has denied consultation with the Trust ever took place.

“It just appeared outside the hospital,” said the spokesman.

“We had no knowledge of it. We enquired with the council and they said they would look into it.”

He said a fast food van trading outside a hospital “doesn’t send out a very good public health message”.

Responding, Mr Montgomerie said: “We try and do good quality food – bacon, sausages and burgers. The response has been fantastic. Most of our business is from people waiting in A&E.”

Cllr Richard Henry, SBC’s executive member for safer and stronger communities, said: “As owners of the land, we have not given the burger company permission to trade on this site.

“For anyone to trade in Stevenage they need several consents, including landlord’s permission, planning permission and a licence to trade.

“These consents are in place to ensure food outlets are properly maintained and offer quality menu choices.

“We’ve worked with the owner to advise him on our licensing procedures, but he has only applied for one of these consents.”

Mr Montgomerie used to volunteer at the café run by the Royal Voluntary Service in Lister’s A&E department, which is closing in April as part of a £19m redevelopment project, and could be replaced by a major coffee shop giant.

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