IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Nuisance’ burger van in clash with posh hotel

‘David and Goliath battle’ as street trader of 22 years claims five-star Montcalm is looking for ‘any excuse’ to get rid of him

08 December, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Peter Carter: ‘They’re saying I’m upsetting other street traders, but there aren’t any and they’re saying that I’m a nuisance to the general public. After 22 years I’m not a nuisance to the general public – I’m a nuisance to them’

A BURGER van owner who has been on the same spot for 22 years is fighting a “David and Goliath battle” against a posh new hotel who say he is causing “noise, pollution and obstruction nuisances”.

Peter and Ann Carter have been selling hot food and drinks to cabbies since 1995 but since the five-star Montcalm Hotel in Finsbury Square opened last summer, there have been persistent complaints to the council.

Islington Council officers have scheduled a review of the Carters’ licence on Wednesday after the hotel’s claims that they are breaching street trading agreements.

In a letter to the Town Hall, Montcalm’s director Clare Glass said: “We understand the street trader has been located within Finsbury Square for a number of years, but the character and use of the square has transformed over the recent past with the renovation of offices and the opening of the hotel.”

Serving cheeseburgers to cabbies and the occasional party-goer on Wednesday night, Mr Carter told the Tribune: “I’ve had this van all this time and they’re saying that I’m trading outside the perimeter of my pitch but I’m not because my wheels are in my pitch – I’ve spoken to the police about it.

Mr Carter serving burgers from his van

“They’re saying I’m upsetting other street traders, but there aren’t any and they’re saying that I’m a nuisance to the general public. After 22 years I’m not a nuisance to the general public – I’m a nuisance to them.”

When the 256-room hotel was granted planning permission last year it was worth £100m.

Islington Council refused permission in 2014 due to the loss of office space but its decision was overturned by a planning inspector.

Formerly Royal London House, the hotel’s website claims the area is “Where London’s financial and creative quarters converge, a new chapter in the story of the city is beginning”.

Lawyers representing the hotel also say the van blocks access for guests and said the fact it had been daubed with graffiti was a “security risk to the public”. They have submitted a log of breaches in papers filed at the Town Hall.

Mr Carter said they were looking for “any excuse” to get rid of him and had “not done their homework” before opening. There have been negotiations about moving elsewhere in the square but no suitable spot has been found.

“We know we can’t go anywhere else around this square. They say there are health and safety concerns because we are serving into the road but we’ve got our health and safety report and it says we’re fine.

“What they’re trying to do is get rid of the little guy – with no compensation.

“It’s not as if I do this part time. How do I pay our mortgage? We’ve never had one bit of trouble till now.”

A Montcalm spokesman said: “We are aware that Islington Council’s trading standards and street trading team has made an application for the current street trading licence operating in Finsbury Square to be brought before the relevant council committee.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage until the council’s committee has been able to hear and determine the matter.”

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