The UK Government is considering changes to the law over pedlars – nowadays I think this often means street traders, but originally and also means itinerant traders – so that they will no longer need a license. See this BBC report and the Pedlars.info website for more details. It’s clearly a complicated issue, and what strikes me is how this contemporary debate enacts age-old questions about who has the right or permission to occupy or travel through a landscape, and how often the answers to these questions are determined by occupation or activity – whether you’re allowed here depends on what you’re doing here. I must say that, as I walk through city centres I almost never buy from street traders, and find they can be slightly annoying (though not as annoying as chuggers). But I’m not sure I would want either national or local government to pander to my consumerist ego by removing this annoyance. There’s something medieval about street traders, buskers, acrobats and performers being the kind of harmless gauntlet a citizen has to run, and something healthy, it seems to me, about the city as this busy and unprivate place.