Monday 29 August 2011

Extortion, With The Backing of The Council

An ice-cream trader who pays more than £500 for a licence to put tables outside her café has hit out, after she was ordered to keep them indoors to avoid interfering with a neighbouring street festival.
‘Ordered to’..? By whom?
Dawn Argyle, owner of the Luxury Ice Cream Company, in Back Swinegate, said she was approached by another nearby business and asked to contribute £240 towards a street licence for a one-day Latin festival tomorrow.

She said: “That would mean I was allowed to put my tables and chairs on the street that day. I’ve just paid £525 to the council for the year, to put three tables in the street.

I didn’t think it was complementary for my business, and didn’t want to take part.
Fair enough, surely?

Well, no.
“The organiser told me I would not be able to put tables out because of their licence and now I’ve received an official letter from the council telling me I can’t do it.
Good grief!

I guess she’s lucky she didn’t end up with a whippet’s head in her bed, after rejecting that ‘offer she couldn’t refuse’…
Coun Janet Looker, the council’s cabinet member for communities and neighbourhood services, said she had sympathy for both parties.
Now, there speaks a dyed-in-the-wool politician!
Coun Looker said: “The festival is organised to make that area of Back Swinegate more festive and they get permission from the council to, in a sense, cut a separate bay where people chip in to contribute to the festival, and a lot of the local traders do come together.

“I think it is a difficult issue. I suspect the organisers of the festival have permission from the city centre management team to clear space for the event and it is a conflict.
Given the incredible, eye-watering amounts that the poor benighted traders have to pay to the council just in order to scratch a living, is it too much to expect the left hand to know what the right hand is doing, Ms Looker?


Captain Haddock said...

The vast majority of shops are open every day ..

"Festivals" take place infrequently ..

And then councils wonder why shops go out of business & get boarded-up ..

subrosa said...

If you've been following the Edinburgh trams fiasco you'd know the answer to your question Julia.

Jiks said...

Given the only way for this country to avoid a debt death spiral is through private sector growth that will largely have to come from small/medium enterprises...

This sort of attitude from our paper-shuffling overlords is a perfect example of what is going to make us envy Greece in a couple of yours is all I'm saying.

John Pickworth said...

I've told this story before but it bears retelling...

Blackpool once had 6 police constables (usually WPC's) patrolling the streets and where necessary, issuing tickets for parking infringements... and in a town frequented by visitors, there were many fines issued but probably many more let-off with advice and warnings.

Come decriminalisation, parking enforcement was taken over by the local council. Which by the end of year one had 70 staff, plus back office support and administration personnel. By year two, they were driving around in a fleet of brand new liveried vans. To pay for all this, the tickets are now issued aggressively and without mercy.

Annual growth appears to be funded by removing ever more free spaces and the application of greater quantities of yellow paint around the town. Result? Lots of jobs for their staff but a town centre that has been decimated of both shoppers and tourists.

Around the same time, the council had introduced Pay & Display parking in their previously free car parks. Owing to the huge costs of leasing ticket machines, new signage and the staff required to empty/service the machines the council actually made a £5000 loss in their second year - exacerbated by drivers refusing to pay to park and staying away or simply going elsewhere. So, the council in their infinite wisdom simply increased the following years charges to make up the shortfall in revenue.

And lets not get started on Blackpool's tram fiasco either.

We used to be a nation of shop keepers once - Napoleon said so. But in just a few short years, the greedy councils have swept much of it away.

RAB said...

£240 refund from the Council for inconvenience, loss of business and her already paid for, Council sanctioned, right to put out tables... Now!

JuliaM said...

"And then councils wonder why shops go out of business & get boarded-up .."


"If you've been following the Edinburgh trams fiasco..."

Oh, I have! I've always time for across the border insanity.

"We used to be a nation of shop keepers once - Napoleon said so. But in just a few short years, the greedy councils have swept much of it away."

Quite so - Southend Council built a shiny new shopping mall out of the old Victoria Circus (rather dilapidated but full of niche shops, and interesting browsing) and the eye-watering rents then drove out all the shops.

The place is still 3/4 empty, but will the council relax the rents? Nope! So, they make nothing at all.