Five-year-old girl bursts into tears as council officers shut down her lemonade stand and issue £150 fine

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A five-year-old girl selling lemonade to revellers heading to a festival in east London had her stand shut down by council officers who slapped her father with a £150 fine.

Andre Spicer said his daughter burst into tears and told him “I’ve done a bad thing” after enforcement officers read out a lengthy legal letter before issuing him the notice.

The five-year-old and Mr Spicer, a professor at City University, were given the fine for “trading without a permit” after they set up the make-shift stall near their home in Mile End.

After it was contacted by the Standard, Tower Hamlets Council promised to cancel the fine “immediately” and said it would contact the family to apologise.

A spokesman for the council said it expected its enforcement officers “to show common sense” when using their powers.

Furious Mr Spicer branded the enforcements officers’ decision an “over-zealous way of applying the rules,” after the pair set out to refresh festival goers heading to Lovebox in Victoria Park on Saturday.

He said: “It’s not like she was trying to make a massive profit, this is just a five-year-old kid trying to sell lemonade.


Andre Spicer and his five-year-old daughter set out to sell refreshments for festival-goers heading to Lovebox (Rex Features)

“She sobbed all the way home and was telling me: ‘Dad, I’ve done a bad thing’. She was very upset because she was proud of selling it, and this really soured the experience.”

“Things like this are common in America…. When I shared our experience with my cousin who lives in Chicago, he told me this would be a national scandal.”

Mr Spicer said he tried to tell his distraught daughter they would set up another stand to sell their homemade pop once they had a permit, but she replied: “No. It’s too scary.”

After telling his friends what had happened, he said a colleague told him it was an example of how “we are discouraging budding female entrepreneurs.”

Branding the situation “Lemonadegate”, Mr Spicer said he has been left confused over how to entertain his child, adding: “Setting up a lemonade stand is obviously far too risky.”

The professor said four officers stormed up to the table just 30 minutes after the pair had set up the stand, where they were selling one large cup of the fizzy drink for £1 and a small glass for 50p.

A spokeswoman for the local authority said: “We are very sorry that this has happened. We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen.   

“The fine will be cancelled immediately and we will be contacting Professor Spicer and his daughter to apologise.”

Stars Frank Ocean and Solange Knowles and DJs Chase and Status and Annie Mac were among the stars performing at the Lovebox dance festival at the weekend.

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