Letter: The seriousness of Operation Cornetto

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The Independent Online
Sir: We refer to your Diary column item 'In the cream' (14 August). Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce has received a number of complaints from local, legitimate businesses about illegal street vendors.

Our local business members who serve snacks and ice-creams rent premises, pay the Uniform Business Rate and all the other

attendant overheads (maintenance, insurance, security, etc). These overheads are generally rising well in excess of current retail price inflation while trade has dropped due to the recession. Illegal street traders siphon away a large volume of what trade remains.

Businesses selling snacks from fixed premises desperately need the summer trade to try to offset higher rent and rates. The illegal street vendors are threatening the livelihood of legitimate traders in Kensington and Chelsea and need to be stopped.

We regret the flippant tone regarding 'Operation Cornetto' in your column.

We feel it would be more constructive if magistrates would view the offence with the seriousness it merits and award maximum penalties instead of the modest fines normally awarded. A more effective deterrent would relieve the police and council from having to repeatedly assign enforcement officers to police this offence, the seriousness of which seems to escape the public, magistrates and the Independent.

Yours sincerely,

JANE CROSTHWAITE

Chairman, Kensington and

Chelsea Chamber of Commerce

London, SW7

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