Plans by street trader in plea to keep spot in Reading

Salim Alami has been a trader for over 15 years, but needed to renew his street trading licence for his trailer situated opposite the Clarks in Broad Street.

Previously he sold leather belts, scarves, sunglasses, gloves, hats and buckles from his pitch, then changed to selling juices, smoothies, slushies,

shakes and cakes.

But Mr Alami faced accusations from Reading Borough Council licensing officers that he has been absent from pitch for long periods this year, prompting them to object to the renewal of his trading licence.

In an investigation, licensing officers observed that he was not spotted at his designated trading spot for at least 45 days over a nine-month period from February to November.

However, Mr Alami said he had new ideas for the sale of various soft drinks and food at a licensing applications committee meeting on Tuesday, November 28.

He said: “I did trade towards the end of the summer holidays this year.

“I want to test the market.

“Trying to do work, and do things after work and the weekend is difficult. It’s about making time, but I think I’ll achieve it.”

Licensing officer Robert Smalley had threatened to have Mr Alami’s street food licence revoked, which would allow another trader to take his spot.

Councillor Paul Woodward, the chairman of the committee argued that holding a hearing to determine the street trading application was valid given Mr Alami’s absence from trading.

Cllr Woodward Labour, Church) said: “Do you understand where the council is coming from?”

Mr Alami replied: “I do understand, I would love to have a dialogue and evolve my business so we can boost the town centre.

“I think I have knowledge and ideas being there for so long, but I’m getting pushback when I’m trying to move forward.

“I’d love for it [Broad St] to be like it was 20 years ago, I’d be there seven days a week, to be honest.

“The way the town centre is at the moment it’s busy at some times more than others.

“I’ll be there almost seven days a week during the summer holidays. I think I’ll be an asset.

“If you give me the licence, I will be there.”

The council’s licensing team had misgivings, as a number of officers noted that Mr Alami had not been seen trading since 2020.

While he was granted a street trading licence to sell juices, smoothies, slushies, shakes and cakes in 2021 and 2022, he was unable to acquire the equipment needed.

Mr Alami supplied information proving long delays in obtaining a slush-making machine to grow the business, which took from December 2021 to April of this year to acquire due to bungled shipping arrangements.

Jon Payne, Mr Alami’s licensing representative, argued that the coronavirus pandemic had a huge impact on the business.

Ultimately, the licensing applications committee decided to grant the trading licence, which will also allow Mr Alami to sell food and drinks as long as they are not sold by other street vendors.

He can sell from his trailer from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 5pm on Sundays.

The decision was made by cllrs Woodward, Deborah Edwards (Labour, Southcote) and Louise Keane (Greens, Katesgrove).

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre