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Council tell Stoke Newington charity Christmas tree seller to close stall

PUBLISHED: 06:51 20 December 2012

Christmas tree vendor Ben Miller poses for a picture (picture: Ron Lamb)

Christmas tree vendor Ben Miller poses for a picture (picture: Ron Lamb)

Archant

Killjoy council officials have threatened to close down a Christmas tree stall which raises money for charity.

The stall, owned by Nick White who was born and raised in Hackney, is in a private alleyway off Stoke Newington High Street and has been operating from there without trouble for six years.

However, the council has now said because it is within seven metres of the highway, Mr White requires a street trading permit.

Mr White, 56, a garden centre owner, gives a proportion of each Christmas tree sale to St Joseph’s Hospice in Mare Street, Hackney where he regularly volunteers.

He has raised more than £25,000 for charity in the past 10 years.

He said: “It is just trees and I pay my rent regularly. If they close me down, I will lose thousands of pounds in stock just before Christmas and will not be able to help the hospice this year.

“I feel very upset about that, as I have always supported the community and I want to continue doing it.”

Mr White has conducted business from the area for the past 20 years, and previously owned a vegetable shop in Stoke Newington High Street.

He has become a go-to figure for locals during the winter holiday season, supplying hundreds of trees to customers who will this year lose out if he is forced to close down.

Anah Parker, 27, an assistant fashion buyer from Stoke Newington, said: “We’ve bought our tree from there for the last couple of years. It is really nice just being able to stroll down the road and pick a tree.

“He is cheaper than other places as well. The tree was great – dropped the odd needle though.”

Two council enforcement officers visited the stall last week and warned Mr White’s nephew Ben Miller, 21, who is employed by his uncle as a salesman, that he will be cautioned if he is found there again.

A council spokesman said: “It would be unfair to legitimate, licensed traders to ignore illegal trading regardless of the time of year or the charitable intentions of the trader. These regulations are in place to protect consumers and our vibrant high streets.

“Those found trading without licences can be issued with on the spot fines and prosecuted, with a maximum penalty of £2,500. Their goods can also be seized.”


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