Spitalfields coffee shop Joe’s Kid has been slapped with a £100 fixed-penalty notice for “wilful obstruction of the highway”, after leaving a potted plant outside on the pavement.
Danni Orsi, who owns the café on Fashion Street, has labelled Tower Hamlets Council “bullies” and questioned how small businesses can survive when faced with such “ridiculous charges”.
“I’m 27 and I’ve worked really hard to open my shop. I have to pay business rates, wages, rent and bills – this is just too much,” said Ms Orsi.
“The plant had a small signpost in, and was tucked away on the pavement opposite my shop, outside an off-licence, whose owner is a friend of mine. He said I could put it there so people who came out the off-licence would see my shop. It wasn’t obstructing the pavement.”
The three offences of which the owners were found guilty by Tower Hamlets Council’s enforcement team are the “wilful obstruction of the highway; items placed on highway without authority; and no licence in place for items”.
Ms Orsi said: “Not only did they give me the notice without any warning, but they confiscated the plant, which my mother had bought for £75. I’m £175 down, and the whole thing seems absurd – they could have just come and told me and I would have taken the plant inside.
“It’s one thing after another with the council. They charge us small business owners £80 for putting out one extra bag of rubbish. It’s like they don’t want us to survive.”
Danni Orsi tweeted:
— Joe’s Kid (@Joes_Kid) May 10, 2016
A council spokesperson said: “Any business that places an item on the public highway requires a Public Footway Licence. This is to ensure adequate pedestrian movement, whilst also enabling the business to legally place items, or allow an encroachment of their business, onto the public highway, where there is sufficient space.
“Licence applications are readily available from Tower Hamlets Council Market Services.”