Bedford cake business owner in run-in with council over ancient law
Bedford Borough Council has come under fire after a small cake business owner discovered she was breaking an ancient law by putting on her own fayres.
Sian Prewett, from Confetti Events, set up Confetti Cake Lab in 2020 after being made redundant due to Covid.
She had stalls at other fayres but discovered very quickly she was making little profit, due to other cake stalls also being there.
So, in desperation, Sian approached pubs in the town to see if she could run her own fayres in their car parks and give them a fee.
But that’s when her problems started.
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She told Bedford Today a few weeks after her first fair – which had been a great success – someone reported them, saying it was against the law.
“We had already enquired as to whether we needed a permit from the council and they said no as long as we weren’t selling alcohol or had live music… which we didn’t,” said Sian.
But when she had a follow-up meeting in Kempston, she was told she was in fact breaking an ancient law.
And the borough council confirmed to us markets in the borough are regulated under its Royal Charter – a charter granted in 1166 – the second oldest in the country.
She said: “I was shocked, to say the least. I still didn’t understand any of it and had never heard of it.
“We rang around several other councils… none of which had heard of a law stopping you from using private land etc. But apparently, Bedford has this charter law that literally no-one knows about.”
Sian added she feels the council is preventing small businesses from making a living.
She said: “All we want is for the law to be altered at the very least, as it’s unfair and not really relevant in today’s society.”
A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: “Markets in Bedford borough are regulated under our Royal Charter. This supports Bedford’s Charter Market and enables the council to uphold rules and to manage the impact of markets on local residents.
“Currently, with the exception of car boot sales being held for charity purposes, the charter puts limitations on markets taking place within the borough.
“Events held on other council land, for example our highways or parks and open spaces, may be subject to other regulatory controls including licensing, safety, traffic control, public health and risk management. The specific controls would be dependent on the type and nature of the proposed event.”
But Sian added: “All we are doing is putting on small events in pub gardens/car parks that help small traders while bringing the community together but it seems Bedford wants to discourage this at all costs. Everyone has PLI (Public Liability Insurance) and risk assessments plus any relevant certificates.
“We just held an event in Eaton Socon on the weekend which was a big success and our next one is in a couple of weeks.”
Sian is going to press ahead with the next fayre at The Anchor, Goldington Road, on Saturday, August 20.