If you have traded since 1997 as a small newsagency selling papers seven days a week you don’t expect the council to tell you to stop selling on Sundays. Or, if you pay £1,000, it will let you open from 10am to 4pm (just like the big boys).

In a nutshell that is what has happened to Piush Patel, who runs Leaders in South London’s Deptford. The detail is more convoluted. He had found a buyer nearby and the price was good. But the prospective buyer’s lawyer found that the lease for the place (which has been there 90 years) prohibits Sunday opening. The buyer pulled out.

Piush got up a petition, went to his councillors, MPs and the council ombudsman (which awarded him £100 compensation), but still Lewisham council’s civil ‘serpents’ have dug their heels in (in this case the ‘Asset Management’ department) and said it will only offer him six hours for “reasons of good estate management” to “minimise the disruption to the neighbouring residential tenants”.

As Piush points out there are any number of similar businesses nearby, all with tenants above, all opening all hours.

He wrote several well-reasoned emails to the council, which were largely ignored. The non-negotiable £1K fee could only go up if he delayed accepting and paying it.

By Feb 13, the deadline, Piush paid up. I have recommended a chartered surveyor to negotiate for him and a big story to the local press, which might get councillors more interested.