STREET traders claim they are being “pushed out” of Oxford by council proposals to ban vans with poor hygiene ratings.
The city council said food vans peddling snacks on the street should have a minimum Food Hygiene Rating of three – which is “generally satisfactory” – or face being shut down.
There are only two street traders who do not already comply – Momo’s Fast Food van on St Ebbes Street, which got a two-star rating in December 2013, and Harry’s Grill in New Road, which received a one-star rating in September 2013.
But 122 restaurants and cafes currently have lower scores, and they will still be able to trade, regardless of their hygiene rating.
Rasim Ulas, 50, owner of the Posh Nosh kebab van, said: “I agree that traders should be clean, because you’re messing with people’s lives and health there.”
Mr Ulas, who has run the van – which has a five-star rating – for eight years, said the council is trying to cause trouble for street traders.
He said: “They don’t feel very happy with street traders in town. They’re trying to move them all away and push them out of town.
“If they move you, you’re going to lose your business and your job, which can ruin your life. They don’t understand that.”
This latest restriction on street traders follows council proposals to force vans to use biodegradable or recyclable boxes and utensils. It also plans to ban them from operating within 100m of any school or college between 7.30am and 6pm.
Food traders must apply for a licence from the city council to sell their products. The proposed plans mean traders without a three-star rating would not get permission, and those found to be breaching the rules would be put before a licensing committee.
Under the so-called Scores on the Doors scheme, organisations are rated from zero – being the worst – to five, which is the highest rating.
The scheme is run by the Food Standards Agency, with the city council carrying out inspections on its behalf.
Les Bayliss, owner of the Burger World van in Botley Road, said: “It’s victimisation against street traders, plain and simple. It’s just wrong, the whole system is just frustrating.”
Mr Bayliss, of Abingdon, who has run the van – which has a five-star rating – for 18 years, said: “It’s becoming a real struggle to make a living and they’re just making it harder.”
In the new Oxford City Council Street Trading Policy, the authority has said that “all food businesses must achieve and maintain a minimum Food Hygiene Rating of three – generally satisfactory.”
Colin Cook, member of the general licensing committee, who came up with the new rules, said: “It’s the nature of the food preparation in a van which means you need a higher standard than in restaurants.
“There are more dangers with a van than restaurants, given they don’t have a constant supply of running water and are not able to keep constant temperatures in fridges like on a static premises.You have to be more careful about it.”
The proposal is out to consultation, which ends on August 12. To comment on the plans go to oxford.gov.uk/consultation
0 – Urgent improvement necessary
1 – Major improvement necessary
2 – Improvement necessary
3 – Generally satisfactory
4 – Good
5 – Very good
Current ratings of the 25 listed street traders in Oxford 5 – 16
4 – five
3 – one
2 – one
1 – one
0 – none
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