A STREET trader is willing to face prison rather than give up the spot he has held for 12 years.
Biagio Mazzotta runs the doughnut van in Havelock Square but has been told by Swindon Council that he must give up his pitch by February 1.
But Mr Mazzotta has said he has no intention of moving on, and wants the council to work with him.
He said: “I’m not going anywhere – I’m just going to carry on unless they offer me another site. I’m not particularly confident they are going to change their minds but I’m not just going to roll over and take it.
“The only place I’ll be going is from here to prison.”
Mr Mazzotta said he has the support of all his customers and has already collected 2,500 signatures on a petition against the action.
He is also taking the council’s decision to appeal, which will be heard on January 27 He said: “I will have been in Havelock Square for 12 years this October. All I am asking for is for the council to be fair with me. I put in requests for four pitches but they have all been refused.
“There was talk of moving us to kiosks in Wharf Green but that never came about, even though we were made to produce business plans.
“I can understand them saying it’s for the development but that’s not going to happen for another three years.
“Other traders have been given another site and that’s what makes me angry. If it was the same for everyone it would be easier to take.
“I pay rent and business rates just like all the other shops and should be treated with the same respect as them.”
Coun Bob Wright (Lab, central) has been supporting Mr Mazzotta in his fight against the council.
He said: “Mr Mazzotta has had five years of uncertainty over this, which I believe is the wrong decision by the council.
“Havelock Square is a sizeable area and Mr Mazzotta is providing a product in a form which is not available anywhere else. He is quite happy to move to another area but is finding it very difficult to get planning consent and consent for trading.
“The council has used issues of safety, litter, even anti-terrorism as reasons why street traders should be moved on.
“There is a lot of subjective opinion being used by the council instead of straightforward objective reasoning.
“The real hypocrisy is that when they bring in a French market or a farmers’ market all the complaints they seem to have against Mr Mazzotta and the other street traders seem to go out of the window.”
Sgt Chris Palfreyman of Swindon town centre police said: “I would say on a daily basis my PCSOs are called to that area for very low level antisocial behaviour. There is no doubt in my mind if the street traders were not there this would not be an issue. The police are in full support of any actions the council wish to enforce.”
Swindon council was unavailable to comment.