Anger at attempt to 'ban' Liverpool Big Issue sellers

The Big Issue: 12 vendors arrested

The Big Issue has taken legal advice and threatened Liverpool City Council and Merseyside Police with an injunction over attempts to stop the magazine being sold in the city centre.

The move follows the arrest of a dozen Big Issue vendors in a drug swoop and a statement from the council suggesting the magazine should not be sold until more controls over vendors are imposed.

Vendors are allowed to sell the title under the Street Traders Act but Ato Erzan-Essien, editor of The Big Issue in the North, said the council was trying to use a local bylaw, introduced last year, to stop touting. “The council has threatened to arrest anyone selling the magazine in Liverpool city centre. We are concerned that vendors will be arrested and if they are, that would be tantamount to harassment,” he said.

It is understood vendors have been approached by police officers and told they risked being arrested.

Big Issue founder John Bird accused the police of creating a “stunt”. He said if the magazine had been told about the drugs investigation, “we would have banned these people if they were on a charge and we would have tried to work with them [the police]”.

He told Press Gazette he would not be intimidated. “Just because some people have behaved illegally, you can’t have a blanket suspension of democracy simply because the local authority wants that to be the case.”

A council spokesman said: “We haven’t banned The Big Issue. We have suggested they should cease selling it until they improve the management of their vendors.”

By Ruth Addicott

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