Rossendale Free Press

Fun police make mugs of council with market ban

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IT’S during the long, hot days of August that you find the ‘silly season’ stories gracing the pages of newspapers.

Thanks to Rossendale Council, however, we were been served an extra dose just in time for Christmas.

Trader Anthony Gotts, who runs the popular Made in Rossendale stall, has been told to stop selling mugs which say ‘In Rossendale, we call our idiots ‘the council.’ Because Rawtenstal­l Market is owned by the council, they can apparently insist on what does and doesn’t get sold there.

Their high-handed approach is somewhat at odds with the fact they’ve brought in a management company to run the market, and who presumably have better things to do than act as the council’s personal fun police.

Indeed, council leader Alyson Barnes says it’s not the council’s intention to be the fun police, but argued that while she could see the funny side, there would be members

of council staff who would not appreciate the disparagin­g words.

A few years ago, after a set of local council elections which didn’t go as well as Labour had hoped - although they still remained in power - Cllr Barnes and her senior team vowed to listen to people more. It had become a constant theme that the people felt ignored.

Rather than act as a defender of the sensitivit­ies of council officers - who, lets be honest, the mugs, coasters

and signs (oh yes, there’s a whole range) aren’t really about - perhaps the Labour leadership would do well to ask why the mugs have been selling for three years now.

The fact is that it didn’t take Mr Gotts very long to find somewhere else for the mugs to be sold from - Queen’s Dock Barbers on Bank Street, with money raised now going to the Rossendale Hospice.

What will the council do next? Put up no entry signs around the barbers? Maybe ban haircuts with a

new bylaw? Or tell Rossendale Hospice they can’t expect any support in Rossendale if they accept the donations?

It seems baffling the mugs are only causing offence now. Indeed, Mr Gotts says council workers, councillor­s and politician­s have known about them all along and some have even bought them.

There is speculatio­n that the mugs offended one person, prompting this remarkable reaction.

Nor is it the first time the council, this year, has

ordered people to remove things which say negative things about the council or its policies.

Back in March, a sign promoting a Protect Our Green Belt campaign in the Holmeswood Park and Townsend Fold area was deemed to breach ‘advertisin­g’ rules and the council insisted it should be taken down. Bev Cook, who organised the sign, said they were being silenced.

Maybe this is why so few people now vote in local elections - they feel it doesn’t change anything.

Certainly, given the way so many Labour councillor­s voted in favour of the new Local Plan, which turns over Green Belt land for housing and industrial developmen­t despite the objections of their residents (aka potential voters), it’s not hard to see why that may be the case.

If you see a mug with a slogan about your organisati­on which you don’t like, surely the solution isn’t to ban the mug - it’s to understand why it was created in the first place.

 ?? ?? ●●Anthony Gotts and (inset) Bev Cook – pictured with mum Betty Hoyle – have fallen victim to Rossendale council bans
●●Anthony Gotts and (inset) Bev Cook – pictured with mum Betty Hoyle – have fallen victim to Rossendale council bans

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