embattled town centre street traders received a boost in their struggle with Swindon Council when they received the Federation of Small Businesses’ backing.

Ian Dyer, chairman of the Somerset and Wiltshire region of the federation, visited the town to meet traders Barbara and Biage Mazzotta and ward councillor Bob Wright (Lab, Central).

The stall holders face court action after the council’s licencing committee barred them from four main streets, including Regent Street, Canal Walk, The Parade and Edgware Road.

Mr Dyer said: “I just find it mind-blowing and cannot see what’s wrong.

“They have been trading there for years. The council are trying to give the centre a new look and I understand that but having talked to all of the traders I really cannot see what the problem is.

“Each of them pays their £5,000 plus rates for the privilege to the council so that’s another £30,000 to £35,000 income which they are happy to pay.

“In my town they are actively encouraging people to go into the town centre. We have got a farm shop and the council are always asking us to go in – it brings variety to the area.”

Barbara Mazzotta, who runs an ice cream stall, and her husband said they now had more than 14,000 names on a petition, the first 9,000 of which have been handed to the council.

She said: “Nobody can understand why they’re doing it and I don’t think half the council know why either.”

A Swindon Council spokesman said: “By law, street trading permits can only be granted for one year at a time, and the traders had well over a year’s notice that the four main town centre shopping streets were likely to be barred to street traders at the end of March this year, a decision which was then taken by the democratically-elected councillors who sit on the licensing committee, and then endorsed by a meeting of the full council.

“The council has to strike a balance between the needs of the street traders and the wider needs of businesses in the town centre, and its continuing regeneration.

“We are not against street trading and street markets in principle, but it has to be in the appropriate place, and Swindon is no different to many other town centres which regulate where these activities happen.

“We have written to the traders asking them to comply with the law, but we have now had to apply for a court order which will require them to move.”

The traders have been summonsed to a court hearing on November 30.

If the council is granted the order and the traders continue to trade at the sites, they will be in contempt of court.