We won't give up, by George!

Cromer traders given a week to clear their wares and signs from the front of their shops are gearing up for battle. And last night, the man whose complaint prompted Norfolk County Council into its get tough policy on traders using the pavements outside their shops said the crackdown was a step too far.

Cromer traders given a week to clear their wares and signs from the front of their shops are gearing up for battle.

And last night, the man whose complaint prompted Norfolk County Council into its get tough policy on traders using the pavements outside their shops said the crackdown was a step too far.

George the Fat Plastic Butcher, who came to symbolise the traders' struggle during their last battle with the council in 1998, has again become a rallying point as his owner predicts a riot if he is taken away.

The council claims that the submission of one complaint by a member of the public left it with no alternative but to ask every trader to clear the decks.

Traders now have seven days from the date of a public meeting held on Tuesday in which to comply. If they do not they will be sent two warning letters within a 28 day period before legal action is taken.

Myrton Wood, who owns the disability shop in Cromer, submitted a complaint to the council in June, saying he wanted action over dangerous A boards in the middle of the street.

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He said: “I do not have a problem with things outside shops as long as there is a reasonable amount of room outside on the pavement.

“I did not expect the high handed way the council laid the law down at the public meeting. I was expecting discussion and compromise. They should deal with this on a case by case basis.”

But the council says as a result of the complaint it now has no choice.

A council spokesman said: “Up to now we have said that we are not going to make an issue about this unless anyone complains. The fact we have had a complaint means we now need to take action.

“Under the Highways Act 1980, you are not allowed to place items such as advertising boards on highway land without permission and owners of these items could be liable for a claim for damages should an accident occur.

“In accordance with the Highways Act, arrangements can be made for their removal and the county council will seek to recover any removal costs incurred.

“The county council may also apply to the magistrates court for an order authorising us to dispose of the items. If the highway obstruction persists then owners can be subject to prosecution.”

George the Fat Plastic Butcher has stood smiling outside Icarus Hines butchers, along with a chilled meat cabinet, since Mr Hines opened 23 years ago.

Mr Hines said that common sense needed to be applied and that things should be removed where there was a danger but otherwise they should be allowed to stay.

He said: “If they do try to take George away there will be a riot and I will not let him go without a fight.”

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