Peanut shack traders get a roasting as bailiffs raid illegal lock-up near Tower of London
- Credit: LBTH
A shack under railway arches used to roast and store peanuts by illegal street traders has been shut down by bailiffs half-a-mile from the Tower of London.
Enforcement officers from Tower Hamlets Council raided the lock-up with the bailiffs after fumes from nuts being heated up with a gas cylinder were detected in Mill Yard, off Cable Street, under the Fenchurch Street main-line.
They seized containers, a nut trolley and box of neon light sabres used for unlicensed street trading.
There were concerns that the gas cylinder used to keep the peanuts warm were posing a fire risk and public safety hazard.
“We are clamping down on this illegal trading,” Mayor John Biggs warned. “We want to ensure the public is protected from the activity by those who care more about making money than the impact they’re causing.”
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The shack where the nuts were being cooked is being pulled down and removed in the next two weeks.
The council began enforcement work against the occupiers when electricity to cook the nuts on Network Rail property was found to be taken from a nearby car-repair garage.
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Shopkeepers along Cable Street and nearby households also complained about pollution and rubbish on the street.
Peanut traders taken to court in the morning who are fined and have their trolley confiscated can be back selling in the afternoon, say police. So the council moved in to close down their operating base instead.
Council cabinet member Asma Begum said: “Illegal traders are putting people at risk of food poisoning by their activities and could be preying on vulnerable people who are just trying to earn a living.”
The authority is concerned that illegal traders employ vulnerable workers below minimum wage and without employment rights, fearing the activity could involve trafficking.
Police and local authority officials from Tower Hamlets, City of London and Southwark are now looking at a tougher legal approach to deal with illicit trading around Tower Bridge and The Tower.
They are targeting the historical heritage area along the Thames with its listed buildings the council says could be affected by pollution caused by illegal traders.