Thornbury shop owner’s pavement display was never ‘under threat’
Over 2,800 people signed a petition to support John Riddiford, who owns L.E Riddiford on Thornbury High Street, after he was told to alter his display of goods outside the shop following a health and safety complaint.
Following the visit from a South Gloucestershire council officer, John wrote about what had happened on his Facebook page. He said: “We’re sorry if it’s you we’ve offended but we’re only here to serve you our community and customers and are here to help not upset and annoy you. We need to utilise the space outside the shop as we have limited space inside without major alterations and the shop possibly losing its character and it encourages customers in to buy things. Without using outside the shop would not take enough money to be sustainable. We thought most enjoyed the display outside and we get many compliments on it and the atmosphere it creates but perhaps not so much anymore. Is it time for major change, relocation or maybe just call it a day?”
John received over 700 comments of support on his post amidst concerns that Riddford’s might close, and 2876 signed a petition to allow him to display goods on the pavement. The story was picked up by national media. There is additional interest because the shop is believed to have inspired the TV sitcom, Open All Hours.
Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Toby Savage said: “Following any complaint, regardless of nature, the Council is obliged to investigate, and in this instance it saw one of our officers visit Riddifords.”
“We understand and appreciate residents’ views over the outcome, but as the post on Facebook shows, John was very understanding of the situation, working with our officer to find a suitable solution. It is important to point out that at no point was the main display outside the shop under threat.”
“The Council remains supportive of our high streets, a prime example being our continued work to ensure parking is free for our shoppers and had Riddiford’s been asked to remove their entire display, as a resident born and brought up around Thornbury, I would have been among the first to sign the petition.”