Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

Reading Borough Council Bill



This Bill is promoted by Reading Borough Council ("the Council"), which is the district council for the borough of Reading.

The Bill relates to street trading and touting. For areas in England and Wales outside London street trading is governed by section 3 of and Schedule 4 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 ("the 1982 Act"). Section 3 enables local authorities to adopt the licensing regime set out in Schedule 4. The Council has adopted the regime.

The Bill has six main purposes, namely—

(1)to extend the scope of Schedule 4 to the 1982 Act so that it enables the Council to regulate the provision of services on the street as well as the sale of articles;
(2)to alter the exemption enjoyed by the holders of a pedlar's certificate from the street trading regime contained in the 1982 Act;
(3)to empower council officers, constables or police community support officers to seize articles, receptacles or equipment, in cases where they believe a street trading offence has been committed;
(4)to allow the court to order the forfeiture of any article, receptacle or equipment which is shown to the satisfaction of the court to relate to the offence;
(5)to allow the Council to regulate touting;
(6)to enable council officers, constables or community support officers to serve fixed penalty notices in cases where they have reason to believe that street trading offences or touting offences have been committed.

Clause 1 of the Bill deals with citation, and Clause 2 with interpretation.

Clause 3 provides that the Bill shall apply for so long as any resolution of the Council under section 3 of the 1982 Act remains in force, in other words, for so long as the street trading regime of the 1982 Act applies in the area of the Council.

Clause 4 alters the effect of the 1982 Act as it applies in the area of the Council, by altering the definition of "street trading" and hence the type of activity which would be subject to regulation under Schedule 4 to the 1982 Act. Currently, the definition extends to the selling or exposing or offering for sale of any article (including a living thing) in a street. The alteration of the definition would bring within the scope of the Schedule the supplying of or offering to supply any service in a street and the purchasing of or offering to purchase any ticket.

Clause 5 alters the exemption from the street trading regime enjoyed by holders of a pedlar's certificate. It limits the exemption to persons trading by house to house visits. They will continue to enjoy the protection of the 1982 Act. All other holders of pedlars' certificates will, on the coming into force of the Bill, have to be licensed by or have the consent of the Council under Schedule 4 to the 1982 Act if they wish to carry on street trading, and will be subject to the controls that the schedule puts in place.

The existing exception is given to persons who trade and by doing so are acting as a pedlar under the authority of a pedlars' certificate granted under the Pedlars Act 1871 ("the 1871 Act"). The 1871 Act itself defines a pedlar as "a person who, without any horse or other beast, travels and trades on foot from town to town carrying to sell or exposing for sale any goods, wares or merchandise or procuring orders for the same, or selling or offering for sale his skill and handicraft". The fees for pedlars' certificates are considerably lower than those for a street trading licence, and pedlars are not subject to the extensive controls placed on holders of street trading licences. Pedlars' certificates are granted by the police, and the conditions for the grant of a pedlar's certificate are that the applicant has lived in the police area for a month, is over 17 and is of good character. A pedlar's certificate, once granted, entitles the holder to act under its authority anywhere in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for a period of one year.

Clause 6 empowers an authorised officer of the Council or a constable to seize articles, receptacles or equipment in cases where a person is reasonably suspected of committing a street trading offence under paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 to the 1982 Act or an offence of aiding abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of such an offence. Seizure is only permitted where the article may be required to be used in evidence in any proceedings in respect of the suspected offence, or where it may be the subject of forfeiture by the Court under Clause 9. The clause provides that a certificate must be issued by the Council to the person from whom the article was seized.

Clause 7 makes special provision about what should happen when perishable items are seized. Clause 7 provides for the giving of a document to the person from whom the items were seized, provides that perishable items must be stored at an appropriate temperature, and that perishable items which are seized may be disposed of within 48 hours of seizure.

Clause 8 provides for the return or disposal of items seized under Clause 6. Items must be returned to the person from whom they were seized following the conclusion of proceedings in respect of the suspected offence, unless the court orders them to be forfeited under Clause 9.

Seized items would also have to be returned at the end of the period of 56 days beginning with the date of seizure if no proceedings had been instituted, or any proceedings that had been instituted had been discontinued or were discontinued at any time during or after the end of that 56 day period.

Seized items do not have to be returned where it is not possible to identify or ascertain the address of the person from whom they were seized. In such a case the Council or Chief Constable must apply to the magistrates' court for an order as to the manner in which the items should be dealt with.

Clause 9 permits a court before which a person is convicted of a street trading offence to order forfeiture of items. Items may only be forfeited if shown to the satisfaction of the court to relate to a street trading offence. Also, the court may not order the forfeiture of an item where a person claiming to be the owner of the item or to have an interest in it applies to be heard by the court, unless he has been given an opportunity to show cause why the order should not be made. In considering whether to make an order for forfeiture, the court must consider the value of the item and the likely financial and other effects on the offender of forfeiting the item.

Clause 10 provides for compensation to be paid to anyone who at the time of seizure had a legal interest in the item, where the seizure was unlawful. Compensation is also payable where not less than six months have passed since the date of seizure and no proceedings have been brought against the person from whom the item was seized, or where proceedings have been brought but the person has been acquitted, or where the proceedings have been withdrawn or failed for want of prosecution.

Clause 11 empowers the Council to designate parts of the borough as areas where touting shall not be permitted. It would be an offence to tout in a designated area. The clause sets out the procedural steps that the Council must take before making a designation.

Clause 12 empowers an authorised officer of the Council, a constable or a community support officer to serve a fixed penalty notice on a person who he has reason to believe has committed a street trading offence under paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 to the 1982 Act, a touting offence under Clause 11, or an offence of aiding abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of such offences. The fixed penalty notice gives the person on whom it is served the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction for the offence by payment of a fixed penalty.

Clause 13 makes further provision about the procedure to be followed in relation to the giving of fixed penalty notices. It provides that no criminal proceedings may be instituted in respect of the offence in question until 14 days have expired after the giving of the fixed penalty notice, and that the recipient must not be convicted of the offence if he has paid the fixed penalty within that period. The clause also makes provision about the information which must be contained in the fixed penalty notice, the methods of payment allowed and the form of the fixed penalty notice. It also provides that fixed penalties are payable to the Council.

Clause 14 provides that the Council must fix the levels of fixed penalties. In doing so the council must have regard to the reasonable costs incurred by them in administering the street trading regime under Schedule 4 to the 1982 Act, the costs of enforcing the provisions of Schedule 4 and the administration and enforcement costs under Clause 11. The Council must also publish the levels of fixed penalties in a local newspaper.

Clause 15 provides the Secretary of State with reserve powers in respect of the levels of fixed penalty which may be fixed by the Council under Clause 14. He may reduce such levels where he considers them to be excessive.

Clause 16 makes provision about the accounting and the application of fixed penalty receipts. Any surplus in the accounts may be applied to purposes connected with the improvement of the amenity of the area of the Council. The Council must report annually to the Secretary of State on any action taken by them in relation to any deficit or surplus in the account.

Clause 17 makes it an offence to fail to furnish a name, or to furnish a false name or a false address to an authorised officer, or a community support officer when that information is requested for the service of a summons or fixed penalty notice in respect of street trading offences and offences under the bill.

Clause 18 empowers a community support officer to give a fixed penalty notice to any person who he has reason to believe has committed a relevant offence or an offence under Clause 11. Subsection (2) of Clause 18 provides that a designation may apply a constable's powers under Clause 6(1) to a community support officer and that Clauses 6, 7, 8 and 10 shall apply as though the reference to constable includes community support officer.


In the view of Reading Borough Council the provisions of the Reading Borough Council Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.

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© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 29 November 2007