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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Liam Thorp

Customer throws £50 into Deli Van forced to pay £6k or leave pitch

A Pier Head trader who faces losing her pitch for Eurovision if she doesn't cough up £6,000 says she has received widespread support - including a customer throwing £50 into her van.

On Saturday, the ECHO revealed that Scouse street traders Patsy Murphy and Rebecca Molloy have been told by Liverpool City Council that they must pay the large sum if they want to retain the Pier Head pitch they have held since 2010 during the period around the Eurovision Song Contest next week.

This is because their pitch falls within what will be the Eurovision Village and the council has temporarily suspended all existing street trading licenses in the area. Traders can reapply, but at a cost of £6,000.

READ MORE: Thomas Cashman's final desperate message to try and intimidate 'accomplice' Paul Russell

Patsy, whose mother and grandmother were both street traders in Liverpool, says she was not consulted on the move and will refuse to pay the costs because she would have to pass it on to her customers. She has been offered an alternative pitch three miles away at Riverside Drive where she says there is no passing trade whatsoever.

Patsy, who says she was invited to trade at the Pier Head 13 years ago by the council and has always been able to operate as normal during major events, has received huge support after her story went public over the weekend,

Much of this has been online, but customers have also come down to her Deli van at the Pier Head to show their own support. She said: "One customer came and threw £50 into the van. The girls ran after him to give it back but he wouldn't take it back.

"Another stopped and said he was ashamed to be a Scouser. These are the real people of Liverpool who don't like to see a wrong."

Liverpool's leaders have now been directly challenged about the situation. Opposition leader Richard Kemp has written to Mayor Joanne Anderson, chief executive Theresa Grant and the Labour group leader Liam Robinson.

He said: "The traders who make their living day in and day out at the Pier Head and on bad days make very little return are being chased from their spots when they could make some decent money in favour of outsiders who can pay good money.

"If this is true it must be reversed. There's no social value in exploitation. These people spend their profits in the local economy and employ local people. They must not be shafted in this way."

Over the weekend, the council's cabinet member for Culture Harry Doyle attempted to explain the decision. Responding to questions, he said: "When the council has paid £2m to bring 15k+ people a day to the secure village, and it has to make sure the village washes its face so we don’t have to dip into council funding, you would expect prices to increase.

Patsy Murphy and her business partner Rebecca Molloy at The Deli, their food stall on the Pier Head (Liverpool Echo)

"An event levy, which will become more regular now we have best value practices in place at the council. You can’t have your cake (Best value) and eat it (let some people off). It’s a lose, lose situation politically, but you all slated us for not charging proper rents."

Speaking about the required costs, Patsy said: "Morally I would never do that. It would mean having to hike our prices up by three times and I can't do that to families in Liverpool who are already struggling. We are supposed to be there to provide affordable food. I would rather have no money than do that, I'm not ripping people off.

"If we did that and raised our prices, what would happen when all the temporary food stalls have left after Eurovision? We would be left with customers who were rightfully angry because we had overcharged them. They are also planning to charge us for other events like the Battle of Britain commemorations at the end of May.

"This means that May, usually one of our most profitable months will now mean hardly any income at all.

"We just feel as though we have been shown no respect at all by the council. We come from a proud family of street traders and we weren't even consulted about this. They want us to just go away for two weeks so they can make as much money as possible and then come back and pick up the crumbs. I don't know who is making these decisions, but if I was them I would be struggling to sleep at night. Shame on them."

In its initial response, a Liverpool City Council spokesperson said: “The Eurovision Village is expecting over 15,000 people every day and to maximise public safety for all, it has been necessary to temporarily suspend the permits for existing traders on the Pier Head.

“In recognition of this disruption we have invited the affected street traders to apply to be a part of the Village. The pitch fees are in line with an event of this scale. There are also additional requirements vendors need to meet, such as the sustainability policies of Eurovision and, for security reasons, to be cashless.

“By choosing not to trade within the Eurovision Village the traders have the option of being relocated to another site without any additional fee.”


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