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Expelling Mr Sizzle

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More than 9,000 people in the city of Wolverhampton have signed a petition to save burger vans and hotdog vendors operating in the central business ‘improvement’ district, reported the Express and Star.

Wolverhampton City Council wants to cut the number of pitches amid concerns they put off shoppers and are unpopular with shopkeepers.

Under the proposals, sellers who want to trade in Dudley Street face having to pay for smarter-looking trailers, while the cost of licences would soar by 160 per cent. The plans also include capping the number of vendors operating at any one time.

The proposals are part of a bid to improve the appearance of the city centre and create a European-style cafe culture.

But traders have carried out their own survey and found overwhelming support for the hot food vendors.
Frank Smith, who owns the Mr Sizzle burger van that operates at night, is chairing a group of traders.

He has been working in the city centre since 1959 and said: “We have had a considerable response to the consultation, with more than 9,000 signatures.

Actually, Wolverhampton is an unlikely location for ‘European cafe culture’ (whatever that is). And the idea that streets in cities in northern or eastern Europe are full of seated people drinking coffee alfresco has no connection with reality.

According to Kim Gilmour, operations director for WV One, the so-called ‘business improvement district’ for central Wolverhampton, it runs “various stakeholder groups” and promotes “the interests of Wolverhampton for the benefit of all”. Yet the evidence from Wolverhampton, Birmingham, and Liverpool is that business improvement districts are about advancing sectional interests. They thrive where municipal vision, and civic pride, is weak.