‘Save our falafels’ fight could end up in court

Council says it has successful applicants ready to move in

Friday, 3rd June — By Dan Carrier

camden Image 2022-06-07 at 8.57.11 AM (2)

Supporters at the falafel stand

A TRADER embroiled in a legal dispute over the right to keep his pitch served up free lunches on Monday.

The Town Hall has ruled the Hoxton Beach falafel stall, which has queues of regulars each day, must leave Byng Place, Bloomsbury.

The stall learned last week that alternative food stalls chosen by the council will now move in.

The falafel stand first started serving food there two years and the free food was proprietors Patrick Matthews and Yacine Hamdi’s way of saying thank you to customers for their support. After a successful decade at Goodge Place, Fitzrovia, roadworks forced the stall to temporarily relocate to Byng Place.

The patch in Bloomsbury’s university quarter had been somewhere Mr Matthews believed a stall could do well – and after gaining a weekly licence over lockdown, trade took off.

He said: “We did well. There were queues and a really nice atmosphere – the street came alive. It was a success, so we applied to make the pitch permanent.”

It was at this point things began to unravel.

Mr Matthews and Mr Hamdi discovered two weeks ago their bid to trade has been thrown out and new operators are due to come in.

Mr Matthews said: “No one has given any reason not to choose our stall. We are Camden-based, we are cheap, healthy and popular. We urge the council to reopen the decision.”

Now Mr Matthews, who is backed by a petition of 1,000 signatures, has a legal firm working on a possible judicial review of the decision. He claims the issuing of licences is not transparent and the decision taken only with an interview on Zoom and no site visit. Solicitor Paolo Caldato of legal firm Spencer West, added: “It appears to be an unfair and irrational process.”

Mr Hamdi said: “We built this business up from nothing. No one wanted to trade here and it was dead. Now we have massive queues every day.

A Town Hall spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, not all the registered assistants who applied were successful. We have a robust scoring system to evaluate submissions and a panel of interviewers to ensure fairness and impartiality

. “The trader is not being evicted and should now be returning to their existing permanent licensed pitch, as previously agreed when they were first allowed to move to Byng Place on a temporary basis during the pandemic.

“We have three successful applicants that are waiting to start trading and will provide variety in the food offer at Byng Place.”

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