FOREIGN shopkeepers will be made to stick to the letter of the law over their shop windows after accusations there is “one rule for them and another for us”.
South Holland District Council had come under fire from some town traders who claim they are made to abide by stringent rules relating to how they premises look, while many of the new Eastern European mini-markets flagrantly flout the regulations by plastering stickers across their windows.
But portfolio holder for operational planning Coun Roger Gambba-Jones vehemently denies the criticism levelled at the council, saying: “Everyone is treated the same.”
He claims many of the foreign-run shops break the rules “out of ignorance rather than deceit” and says often all it takes is a quiet word with the management to rectify the problem.
He said: “It was raised with the council that nothing appeared to being done about these shops that put up these signs which aren’t in keeping with the local street scene while being heavy handed with other British-run businesses.
“That may have been the perception but I don’t agree with it. We are talking to the individuals and trying to educate them about the process and what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
“We would just urge people to give us a chance as these things take time. If these shops fail to act appropriately we will follow the proper process to bring them into line in a fair and professional way.”
One of those who raised the issue was Spalding pub landlord Pete Williams, of the Punchbowl in New Road, who said many of the shop windows were “garish and tacky” and dragged down the overall appearance of the town centre.
And he said many of the worst offenders were “shooting themselves in the foot” as it made them unattractive to many shoppers who would probably otherwise spend money inside.
Mr Williams said: “I think it would be of huge benefit to them if people could see inside rather than have blacked out windows because it puts people off going in when actually the produce they sell is fantastic.”