Wanstead barber fined for putting two chairs outside for social distancing

Paul outside his barbershop. Picture: Paul Michaelides

Paul outside his barbershop. Picture: Paul Michaelides - Credit: Archant

A barber has been fined £100 for placing two chairs outside his shop so elderly customers could wait while social distancing.

Wanstead Hairdressers in Woodbine Place, Wanstead, was fined for blocking the pavement after a Redbridge Council officer spotted the chairs on July 21.

Owner Paul Michaelides says he provided the chairs for elderly customers, who may have to wait outside for long periods due to coronavirus legislation.

He criticised the council’s “overzealous attitude” given the width of the pavement – around three metres.

He said: “I find it shameful that the council has sent me this fine in the post without even considering the reasoning behind the chairs being there.

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“We are a very small shop and so our waiting customers can no longer wait inside the shop due to social distancing rules.

“Most of our customers are elderly as we have been here for so many years so we offered them a chair outside.

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“The two chairs were put up against the shop window so as not to inconvenience pedestrians.

“I want other shop owners to know the council’s attitude to small businesses who have taken a huge financial hit and are struggling to find their feet again, in such difficult times, doing their best to adhere to safe social distance practices.”

Wanstead Hairdressers is a family-run business that has been operating since 1969.

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said: “We understand this is a tough time for local businesses. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve offered a huge amount of support to local businesses, including distributing more than £40million of grant funding to help them stay afloat.

“The new pavement license is now available at a much-reduced price for businesses in the hospitality sector. With that in mind, we’ve been promoting the new license to local hospitality businesses so they can provide outdoor seating, which will help them drum up further business and ensure social distancing guidelines are followed.

“It’s important there is a level playing field for businesses in the borough, as it would be unfair to those that have paid for the license if we simply turned a blind eye to those who hadn’t done the same. That’s what happened in this particular case. It’s also essential that we ensure the public highway is kept free of any obstructions, to ensure safe and sustainable use of the paved areas - particularly for people with accessibility issues.

“There is an appeals process, and this is an option for the business concerned if they feel the fine is unfair.”

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