Hitchin man blocked from trading on private land hits out at councils

Geoff with his son Sam outside the van. Pic: Rafe Abrook

Geoff with his son Sam outside the van. Pic: Rafe Abrook - Credit: Archant

A MAN who spent three years working towards setting up his business has criticised a council which has blocked him from trading, claiming the authority should be helping businesses such as his, not stopping them.

Geoff outside his van. Pic: Rafe Abrook

Geoff outside his van. Pic: Rafe Abrook - Credit: Archant

Geoff Darlow operated as a food vendor on the forecourt at Hitchin antique shop Gila Timur Trading Co Ltd, but has now been told by North Herts District Council to cease trading.

Gila Timur Trading Co Ltd , where Geoff has been banned from trading

Gila Timur Trading Co Ltd , where Geoff has been banned from trading - Credit: Archant

Mr Darlow says he was told he cannot operate on the site because of highways concerns, even though he trades on private land which he rents.

He was trading for three weeks before he was told to stop.

The 35-year-old, who lives in Grasmere, Stevenage, claims councils should be encouraging new businesses and trade, not pushing them away.

“While the council decide what to do they won’t even let us continue to trade so that’s months of no earnings,” he said.

“I am beyond stressed and frustrated being told I can’t sell out of the van at all, I have a family and bills to pay. I’m trying to follow my dream. Yet I have to wait months at their leisure.”

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Mr Darlow, who has called his business Lambert’s Grill, studied at North Hertfordshire College for two years, gaining a chef qualification.

He sells street food, cooked from locally sourced ingredients from Hitchin Market and Brookfield Farm in Stevenage, and says his focus is on supporting local businesses.

“We were doing a really good trade, and people were loving it. Now they are asking where we have gone,” said Mr Darlow.

“Despite receiving a fantastic response from the locals, the council have stopped us.

“How is this encouraging new and small businesses?”

A Herts Highways spokesman said: “We were consulted by North Herts District Council as the highways authority, and commented that the location of site could obstruct pedestrians, and is not appropriate on a busy B-road.

“We can only advise in respect as a highways authority.”

NHDC said Mr Darlow was missing a licence, which was then applied for retrospectively.

Andy Godman, NHDC’s head of housing and public protection, said: “When considering Mr Darlow’s application for a street trading licence, we received objections from both Hertfordshire Highways and the police who had road safety concerns regarding the location of the business.

“When receiving objections from consultees it is our policy to conduct a formal review of the application and this process is ongoing.”

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