A shack under Fenchurch Street railway station used to roast and store peanuts by unlicensed street traders half-a-mile from the Tower of London was shut down successfully by bailiffs and local officers.
Tower Hamlets Council enforcement officers raided the lock-up after fumes from nuts being roasted with a gas cylinder were detected in Mill Yard, off Cable Street, under the Fenchurch Street mainline.
There were concerns that the gas cylinder used to keep the peanuts warm were posing a fire risk and public safety hazard.
They seized containers, a nut trolley and box of neon light sabres used for street trading. In the next two weeks, the shack will be pulled down and removed.
Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs, said: “We are clamping down on this illegal trading.
We want to ensure the public is protected from the activity by those who care more about making money than the impact they’re causing.”
The council began enforcement work against the occupiers when electricity to cook the nuts on Network Rail property was found to be taken from a nearby car-repair garage.
Shopkeepers along Cable Street and nearby households also complained about pollution and rubbish on the street.
Police said that in the past, peanut traders taken to court in the morning are fined and have their trollies confiscated can still be back selling in the afternoon. Therefore, the council moved in to close down their operating base instead.
Councillor Asma Begum, a member of the Council cabinet, said: “Illegal traders are putting people at risk of food poisoning by their activities and could be preying on vulnerable people who are just trying to earn a living.”
Authorities are concerned that illegal traders employ vulnerable workers below minimum wage and without employment rights; the activity could also involve trafficking.
Police and officials from Tower Hamlets, City of London and Southwark are now looking at a tougher legal approach to deal with illicit trading around Tower Bridge and The Tower.
They are focusing on the historical heritage area along the Thames. The council says the pollution caused by illegal trading could affect the listed buildings along the river.
Tower Hamlets Trading Standard officers are appealing for the public to contact them over any breaches of consumer laws. For consumer complaints and enquiries telephone: 020 7364 6767 or Consumer Direct (national helpline): 08454 040506