Unlicensed Pop-up Markets create chaos during Ramadan
Unlicensed pop-up markets in the Borders Green area of Birmingham have been accused of spoiling the spirit of Ramadan. According to the Birmingham Mail this weekend, which plastered the story across its front pages under the banner ‘Ramadan Night Markets ‘Hell’ For Locals’, local residents are up in arms as a result of nightly chaos caused by the opportunist illegal pop-up traders. Although complaining residents were too frightened of reprisals to give their names, they were outspoken about the constant plague of blocked roads due to illegal parking and ‘mountains of rubbish’ left uncollected each night. Noisy fireworks they said, were being set off nightly, there were regular street brawls, to which police have to be called and there was constant abandoned food waste from customers and vendors left on the pavement at the end of each night. The chaos, they said, has rendered the Coventry Road a den of anti-social behaviour. As one resident remonstrated:
‘This should be a celebration of Ramadan, but it is 30 days of hell’.
The report described how one resident explained that due to illegal parking, with cars half on the pavement and half on the road, he had been distressed to witness a man on a disability scooter trying desperately and in vain to get by. He added that local business people are having to abandon their vehicles prematurely in order to get to their places of work, due to vans blocking the road.
Complaints falling on deaf ears
Another resident, who was prepared to give his name, 47 year old Navid Sadit, said he had tried to complain to the police and the local council. He said that he had actually written to the local authority seeking the enforcement of bans on illegal trading and begged for them to provide regular patrols during Ramadan and inspections by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Thus far he said, his complaints seem to have fallen on deaf ears. He added:
‘Our faith teaches us not to destroy, yet if any non-Muslim came to Coventry Road they would think it is a s....... No one will say anything in case of reprisal. We have no vendetta with the vendors, but where are their licenses and what are they selling? I refuse to raise my child in this.’
As reported in the Mail, other local business owners, who wished to remain anonymous, exclaimed that:
‘The situation is horrible. I have seen street vendors use the same gloves when handling different food. It is not fair to the people but we can’t tell them....its like living in an area with no policing or government. The morning after we have to clean up the rubbish’
Assurances from the local authority
The Birmingham Mail did manage to obtain a response from the local Labour councillor representing Bordesley Green, Raqeeb Aziz, who offered assurances that:
‘The council is taking action to stop illegal activity around the Coventry Road area. The council’s Highways Department, Community Safety Team and the Regulation and Enforcement Division are all visiting the area to take details of those who are involved in setting up stalls’
He added that the council will actively work with the West Midlands Police to prosecute all those who are trading illegally and will work with his colleagues to ensure that:
‘Residents of Bordesley Green can continue observing Ramadan and enjoy the upcoming Eid celebrations in a safe and peaceful way.’