Hull shop in bitter row with council over its tables, chairs and signs

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A Hull businesswoman has slammed the council for “grinding” small businesses down after being reprimanded for putting tables, chairs and signs outside his city centre shop.

The owners of Hullaballoon say they have been targeted for putting up A-boards to try to promote their business which moved to Spring Street, off Spring Bank, in April this year.

Elaine Hakim, who runs the Hull business, says they hoped the outdoor furniture would encourage people to sit outside and enjoy a coffee at their shop which they have recently altered to sell drinks, as well as their customary balloons and celebration gifts.

Hull City Council say it continues to work with businesses in the area but is keen to make clear companies must make sure pavements remain accessible for “the safety of others”.



They believe the street furniture would help to enhance Spring Street
They believe the street furniture would help to enhance Spring Street

The family firm, which announced it was closing its Percy Street store just yesterday due to a world shortage in helium, say its application to the local authority for the street furniture has been “knocked back despite the boost it would give to the area”.

Ms Hakim, who runs the business with son Mark Carter, says a council officer has regularly attended the shop to thwart their attempts to put the furniture out, causing frustration and them to feel someone in the area is tipping the authority off.

 

She said: “It seems like victimisation. As soon as we put something out, he is there 10 minutes later. It’s like someone has got him on speed dial.

“He said we can’t have the tables and chairs out there but we need to get it promoted. The space outside Britannia House would look much better with them.



Hullaballoon's owners have been reprimanded for putting out A-boards, tables and chairs
Hullaballoon’s owners have been reprimanded for putting out A-boards, tables and chairs

“If he could’ve had them tables and chairs out there, businesses would be booming. It would help to boost the area.

“The possibilities there are endless but there’s no leeway.”

 

The independent company applied for pavement planning permission on June 7, however the council says its application was withdrawn before a decision was made.

Ms Hakim says she believed the application was refused following concerns “to do with Spice heads”, despite the council saying it never made it to their planning committee.



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“As for small businesses, the council are just grinding them down,” she said.

“Mark has always wanted a coffee shop and now he has got one. The health inspector is happy with that and said it’s spotless.

 

“It could be a win, win but they just won’t let us advertise.”

What the council say

In response, a council spokeswoman said: “We want to work with businesses, not against them, in ensuring they advertise their offers without compromising the accessibility of pavements and the safety of others.

“Everyone has a duty to ensure that all pedestrians, particularly the visually impaired, are as safe as possible by reducing hazards on our pavements.

“In May 2017, a planning committee decision came into effect to make the city centre as accessible as possible for everyone. The vast majority of businesses have been cooperative and constructive and understand the purpose of these measures.

“In addition, the business withdrew its application for a pavement café licence before a decision had been made.”

 

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