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What is clear, however, is that while campaigners lobbying against the measures to regulate the dealing in secondhand goods are pleased with the concessions they have won, they are conceding defeat in general and are concerned for the future of the antiques trade in the county.

Their priority now is to pin down precisely what is being pushed through so that they can advise the trade of their responsibilities.

Crucially, the measures will put Kent dealers at a distinct disadvantage compared with members of the trade from outside the county.

The most controversial measure in the Bills is the recording of the names and addresses of people selling goods to the trade that are likely to be sold on for more than £10. This will hit early trade buying at fairs in particular, for Kent dealers, even when operating outside the county as they must keep records of such transactions wherever they conduct them. Often the busiest and most profitable period of such events, the prospect of having to use valuable time giving or taking down personal details of other dealers or collectors could well lead to Kent dealers being shunned.

Another major area of the trade likely to be hit is the house clearance, where dealers buying possibly thousands of items in a single sale would be obliged under the law to record each one separately.

The Bill proposes that the £10 threshold should apply to jewellery, watches, photographic equipment, sports, boating and equestrian equipment, musical instruments, tools, bicycles, optical equipment, firearms and gardening equipment.

There is a certain amount of confusion about the threshold above this level. Campaigners lobbying against the Bill understood that other antiques would not have to be listed unless their resale value was likely to be over £500, but in the Third Reading of the Bill in the Commons, the promoters of the Bill seemed to have settled on a figure of £50 despite strenuous efforts by Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Derek Wyatt to have the level revised to the higher figure.

Malcolm Hord, chief executive of LAPADA, was concerned that nobody seemed to know how many of the proposed amendments had gone through at the reading. He said his association had agreed to co-operate with the two local authorities in introducing the new legislation, but added: “Over the past two years the association has, with others, worked hard to amend these Bills so as to make them workable and more effective in their aims. While we have largely succeeded in this we remain concerned over the problems facing art and antique dealers as a result of myriad different local rather than national legislation. We will continue to encourage the Government to consider national solutions to the problems of crime.”


Mark Carr, Executive Vice President of DMG Fairs, who have been campaigning vigorously against the Bills, said: “We still believe that the Bills do not fairly reflect the concerns of dealers over the extra red tape they will introduce but take some comfort that through our joint efforts that we have eliminated some of the worst aspects of the Bills.

“We would like to thank the thousands of dealers who signed the petition opposing the Bills, and particularly the efforts of Georgina McKinnon and David Jackson Grant, the Kent dealers who have been tireless campaigners.

“We were successful in getting the notice period for introduction of the Bills extended from three months to six, and urge all dealers who buy or sell in Kent (whether or not their business is based there), to take advantage of this time to get full guidance on the regulations from Kent Trading Standards.

“We will be doing all we can to help dealers comply with the new rules when they are introduced.”