A CRACKDOWN on pedlars operating illegally in Bolton town centre could be on the cards following the launch of a new Bill by MP Dr Brian Iddon.
The MP for Bolton South-east has introduced the Bill in the House of Commons and hopes it will help rid streets of illegal pedlars, who he says deprive genuine market traders of custom and sometimes deal in stolen or counterfeit goods.
The Pedlars Act 1871 allows people to travel around on foot from town to town selling wares if they obtain a pedlar's certificate from the police.
But Dr Iddon told MPs that instead of moving around pedlars often stand in fixed positions in town centres for long periods of time.
He wants trading standards officers and police to be given powers to confiscate goods, complaining that court fines are not hitting illegal traders hard enough.
Dr Iddon said: "These pedlars are a nuisance in Bolton and other towns.
"Criminals are heavily involved and off-load stolen goods and things like counterfeit DVDs.
"This is affecting market traders and small businesses and they've had enough."
Dr Iddon's Pedlars Street Trading Regulation Bill was opposed by Conservative MP Christopher Chope, who argued pedlars should be able to sell items like helium balloons.
But Dr Iddon, who is vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on markets, secured a second reading next Friday and hopes the Bill will become law.
He says councils in Newcastle, Maidstone, Leicester and Liverpool have spent a lot of money on local laws to deal with the problem and wants action nationally.
Andy Fisher, Bolton Council's licensing group manager, said: "From time to time you see these pedlars selling from trolleys and suitcases.
"It happens in Victoria Square and around Market Street and Deansgate. On a bad day you might see four or five. It's worst in the run-up to Christmas and in warmer weather.
"The courts have said pedlars can remain in one position for up to 20 minutes before they are deemed to be street trading.
"But the pedlars simply move a few yards so it's difficult for us to prosecute them."