EXCLUSIVE: UKIP to the rescue for Portuguese migrant who can continue his water bikes enterprise

Victor David.

Victor David. - Credit: Archant

THEY say that help is often found in unexpected places.

UKIP's Jeremy Tyrrell

UKIP's Jeremy Tyrrell - Credit: Archant

And that couldn’t have been more true for Portuguese migrant Victor David who, when ordered to stop trading by council officials earlier in the summer, was rescued by UKIP.

Victor David.

Victor David. - Credit: Archant

Mr David, of Collier Close, Ely, has been offering rides on his hand-made waterbikes on the River Great Ouse since he arrived in the city in 2010 but fell foul of officials from East Cambridgeshire District Council in July, when they suddenly ordered him to stop trading.

Officers said Mr David was “trading illegally” as he was offering a service to the public on the quayside and on the slipway that leads onto the river without a licence and without public liability insurance.

As a result, Mr David had to pack up his 11 water bikes at the height of the summer, costing him, he says, hundreds of pounds in lost trade.

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Mr David, who said he had enjoyed a good relationship with the council when he first arrived in Ely, said: “I wasn’t trading for about a week, which cost me a lot of money. I had to come down to the river and explain to my customers what was happening because they expected to see me here.”

Word of Mr David’s plight reached other business owners in Waterside and the owner of Ely Marina, City of Ely councillor Jeremy Tyrrell, who is also a prospective UKIP candidate standing in the upcoming by-election for the Ely East seat.

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Mr Tyrrell is currently campaigning for Britain to be withdrawn from the EU and says Britain should not be “pushed around and abused” by Europe.

When he heard of Mr David’s case, however, Cllr Tyrrell contacted UKIP county councillor Robert Bullen and the two men petitioned the district council for an explanation. In the meantime, Cllr Tyrrell allowed Mr David to operate his bikes from his land.

A fortnight later, the district council contacted Mr David again to say that its legal department had “re-considered” the law and said that hiring the waterbikes was not the same as selling and he would, therefore be allowed to trade again.

Cllr Tyrrell said: “Victor has been running there for three years and in the beginning the district council had encouraged hum to be there. Out of the blue, they send him a letter saying he needs a licence and if he didn’t he could be prosecuted. It’s just not good enough.

“A lot of people will be surprised that UKIP stepped in to help but we have no problem with people who want to come here and work. It’s the illegal immigrants that cause us a problem.”

A spokesman for East Cambridgeshire District Council said: ““Following a number of discussions with the operator and further investigation of the specific regulations, we accept Mr David can hire out pedalos from the slipway on Ely’s riverside. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused Mr David.”

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