Some councils must give their officials magnifying glasses. In September, someone from the council arrived at Minaxy Patel's store Dayatri News in Eastbourne, East Sussex at 6.45am and questioned one of the news delivery boys standing outside. He said he was waiting for his dad and that he was picking up his newspapers and taking them home, ready for a 7am start.

The local authority has decided that the kid was starting work too early and called Minaxy in for an interview. Because their tape machine wasn't working properly they sent her away, suggesting she get legal advice.

When she rang me she had already been to her local Citizens Advice Bureau, which told her they could now only give advice over the phone, except the line had been busy ever since.

The only advice I could give was to keep trying and to get the parents of the four kids she employs to write to the local authority and explain that it is they, the parents, actually doing the work for the first 15 minutes. Minaxy has sensibly arranged the delivery routes so that the boys delivering from their own homes are closer to houses on their patch.

For her part, she is livid. "Where's the protection when the kids around here are trying it on? There are 13- and 14-year-olds hanging around at midnight. I'm giving employment to some and keeping them off the streets."

I wonder since when it became illegal for someone to turn up early for work.

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