Council flips decision on burger van after blunder

A BURGER van owner has lost a street-trading licence after bungling council departments forgot to ask themselves if they were happy to give permission.

South Gloucestershire councillors granted a permit to Karen Sealey for her Cheeks Eats mobile fast-food trailer last April.

But seven months later the authority’s property team realised the council actually owned the land – and didn’t want her to set up a stall.

Licensing sub-committee members revoked her licence for Feynman Way, by the Bristol and Bath Science Park in Emersons Green, at a meeting in March.

Ms Sealey already runs a van a quarter of a mile away in Folly Brook Road under a different, previous consent, and wanted to set up a second one next to the busy science park.

Councillors approved her application in April last year, overruling two objections on grounds of public nuisance and public safety.

Papers showed property services were one of seven South Gloucestershire Council departments contacted during the consultation period, but gave no response at the time.

Ms Sealey told the hearing she had not yet used the Feynman Way licence but wanted to expand there, and had put in a lot of work and expense preparing for it.

The panel was told that in November the authority’s property investment services manager wrote to the licensing team to say the road had not been adopted and so was not a public highway, and that the council, as the landowner, did not give permission for street trading there.

Asked how the “error” was made and why it took so long for the objection to be made, licensing officer Keith Jones said: “I don’t know, but as a landowner we have to respect the fact that they don’t wish Cheeks Eats to operate on their land.

“Why property services chose from April up to November to make that decision, I don’t know.

“Perhaps more scrutiny should have taken place within the licensing regime at the time to ensure permission was granted, and that wasn’t done.”

Ms Sealey told the panel that she had done nothing wrong.

She said: “If they had done their investigations correctly at the very start, they’d have realised this was still privately owned council land, I would have been refused at that point and my licence fee would have been refunded.

“This now really stops me expanding my business. I don’t want to give up this patch.”

“It’s really close to home, easy for me to get to and I think I would have done really well there.

“This just stops me in my tracks.”

Mr Jones said: “This licensing authority accepts that the original application should not have been granted and was incomplete due to the landowner’s permission not being granted.

“However, because of this, the licensing sub-committee is invited to revoke the licence with immediate effect.”

The sub-committee agreed and withdrew the licence for Feynman Way, but said the council should override its existing policy on application fees and pay Ms Sealey back.

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service