Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cole's Lane Traders Defend Their Right to Trade on Established pitches

Over the past few months Joe and I have been involved is helping the street traders defend their right to trade from their pitches on Cole's Lane.
The street traders on Cole’s Lane fought hard to get their pitch on this site over twenty years ago. Indeed Joe went to prison when he participated in street protests to defend the rights of the traders during the 1980s. Following the protests the traders were allocated their pitches on Cole’s Lane.
Dublin City Council recently granted planning permission to Dunnes Stores to extend the opening of their door which leads on to Cole’s Lane. They did this without any consultation with the traders outside, who have pitches assigned and licensed by Dublin City Council on Cole’s Lane. This shows a complete lack of joined up thinking within Dublin City Council as indeed the Planning Section did not consult with the Casual Trading Section within Dubln City Council despite the fact that Cole's Lane is a designated Casual Trading Area.
The traders pay the Council for their pitch and casual trading license. Dublin City Council have informed the traders that they will have to move from their current pitches. They plan to have the same number of stalls in a much smaller and more confined space to make way for the new entrance at Dunnes Stores. The traders are struggling in all weathers to eke a living from their stalls. Dublin City Council and Dunnes Stores should have consulted with the traders prior to granting planning permission and building the new entrance on to Cole’s Lane.
The situation came to a head this week on Cole's Lane as Dunnes Stores planned to open on Thursday 12th July. On Monday 10th July, Dublin City Council painted new pitch markings after the traders had finished trading for theday. On Tuesday evening the traders protested outside Dunnes Stores during a pre-opening reception attended by Margaret Heffernan. I joined the traders on their protest for the evening. They are very upset that their livlihoods are being threatened in this way through no fault of their own.
I organised a meeting between the City Council and the traders on Wednesday afternoon and a number of possible solutions were suggested including finding suitable alternative pitches for some of the traders and regenerating the street market.
Today, Thursday 12th Dunnes Stores opened and the traders took up their original designated pitches. They are refusing to move until and unless Dublin City Council provide alternative suitable pitches. The position of the stalls looked satisfactory to me but the Fire Chief has yet to give his ruling on that.
In the meantime I have arranged for the traders to come to the next meeting of the Area Comnmittee to discuss the conditions they are working in. Cole's Lane has the potential to be a bright cheerful market where street traders and large department stores could work side by side to each others mutual advantage. All European cities have modern street markets. Cole's Lane is badly in need of a revamp which would put it on a par with any of the quality markets in Europe.
Dublin City Council have also said that they have learned many lessons from this experience and promise that they will take this on board when the redevelopment of Moore Street takes place.

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