I bring you part three in the saga of Alvin Wilkinson versus East Riding Council.
As I reported in part one, Alvin was forced to cover up his pre-pack fruit & veg display set up outside his Countdown Stores in Hornsea, East Yorkshire. We thought it was down to jealous complaints by other retailers in the vicinity, or we assumed.
Part two (C-Store, June 20) saw Alvin being told that, owing to the number of anonymous complaints, he would have to shorten the space he took up out front. Yep: ‘elf ‘n’ safety.
Part three: an official in a high-vis jacket with an ID card slung round his neck showed up and asked Alvin if they could have a quiet word. Alvin thought the guy was from the police as he had earlier reported an incident.
The bloke then said: “Anything you say can be taken down and used in evidence against you.”
As Alvin said in his Yorkshire brogue: “I thought it were police.”
But no, it were jobsworth from the council.
A lengthy discussion followed. Alvin was told that he could only extend between 6-8in in front of his store (about the size of a punnet of strawberries, more of which later). At present his shelving extends 15-20in. It’s also got to be 2ft above the pavement, but can go as high as it likes.
In part two of this saga I mentioned that Alvin should complain about the shop up the road on a tit-for-tat basis. He did and that shop must also desist. In fact, it already has.
Alvin’s been given seven days to Do Something. I write this on the day Wimbledon fortnight begins.
As I mentioned in the last issue, Alvin was selling 60 punnets of strawbs on a weekend, so this is an opportunity not to be missed.
While deciding how best to tackle the problem I suggested he fit up a member of staff in tennis whites, put a basket on her arm and send her to walk up and down outside. Brill, I thought, but turns out I am not the first to suggest this (and the council have already okayed it).
In fact, customers have made all sorts of suggestions, but this remains the best.
And after Wimbledon, change the outfit to, say, Nell Gwynne.
Hornsea also has a music festival coming up. “Tune in Alvin,” I urged. He should, because he’s getting the local vote.
I will bring you part four, eventually.