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Food vans in Bolnore Village

01 August 2018 07:30

After many emails, meetings and discussions with Mid-Sussex District Council (MSDC) over the past months, the conclusion is that there isn’t any short-term prospect of having food vans in the Woodside car park. 

As we’d agreed, the Bolnore Village Community Partnership (The Woodside) Trustees and the Community Interest Company approached MSDC’s property team about the possibility of the Woodside car park being used, initially on a trial basis and then permanently if everything went well. We thought such a request would be straightforward given that food vans use council car parks elsewhere in the district. Unfortunately, nothing is straightforward and the BVCP has a very rigid lease agreement with MSDC. MSDC have said that the Woodside would need to pay substantial fees to allow a short-term trial for each food van, fees for permission to allow each van to trade permanently and pay to install outside plugs and even fees for the permission to install them.  The Woodside would have to then pass on these costs to the traders, charge additional fees for the use of electricity, the cost of any time spent opening/closing the Woodside and car park and additional hire fees to MSDC.  

As a charity, the Woodside isn’t in a position to pay such sums on which it would be unlikely to see a return and for what is, in effect, a non-core activity. We also believe that such fees are excessive, especially given that they’d have to be passed on to businesses that have already paid for a street-trading licence that would be hard to use in Bolnore.

Although the Bolnore Village Community Interest Company is not allowing food vans on the square this is a very small part of Bolnore Village.  Food vans in general are not “banned from Bolnore” as some have falsely claimed.  From our understanding of street traders’ licences, for which they pay the council an annual fee, are still allowed to trade on any public highway in Bolnore.  However, the way the Village is designed doesn’t support this and there is no obvious alternative location. The BVCIC had to take action for activities taking place on land that it manages that were causing a nuisance to residents in the immediate vicinity. These activities also risked conflict between residents and traders or damage to vehicles and property.  These areas are maintained at the expense of just 900 homeowners in Bolnore, not the council. For example, the Fish and Chip van intended to run an overhead extension lead from its van to the Co-op across the car park used by tall lorries and through fragile trees. This was impractical on many levels.

The traders may wish to try to convince the council to find some way of making it easier to operate in the Woodside, without the charity having to incur such costs, in which case the BVCP and BVCIC will do what they can to support them. Or they may contact Crest about setting up in Phases 4 and 5 (“New Bolnore”) where Crest still own the roads. Both traders have been informed of the outcome and Fab at Fab’s Pizza’s has asked us to inform residents that he is now located at Wivelsfield Green on Tuesday evenings.

From Bolnore Village Community Partnership and Bolnore Village Community Interest Company