Rubbish row leads to Hanley Indoor Market stall ban
A STALL at Stoke-on-Trent's biggest market will be closed for two weeks – after the stall-holder's licence was suspended in a row over rubbish.
Pickstone's Fruit and Veg, in Hanley's Indoor Market, closes for business later today after owner Paul Pickstone was hit with a 14-day ban.
It means the 48-year-old cannot deliver goods to his own stall leaving staff out-of-work until his return on Monday, December 10.
Mr Pickstone, who has run the stall with wife Simone for 25 years, was handed the suspension for threatening behaviour earlier this month.
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It followed an argument with one of the market inspectors who questioned why he hadn't separated his plastic and cardboard rubbish before throwing it out.
The suspension bans Mr Pickstone from all of the city council-run markets in Stoke-on-Trent.
The trader, of Market Drayton, said: "I was asked why the cardboard hadn't been separated from the plastic and I told the inspector that it isn't just me who doesn't do it.
"I felt I was being victimised because I wasn't the only one. There were boxes all around and she could see that, but it was me who got picked up on it.
"The discussion got quite heated and we started shouting at each other.
"I know I was wrong and I shouldn't have done it but nobody asked me why I got so mad.
"I have never been given any warnings or anything before so it is frustrating that it came to this."
Mr Pickstone, whose brother Martin runs a fruit and veg stall in Stoke's Outdoor Market, says he will be left £3,000 out of pocket following the closure – but will still be required to pay his £950-a-week rent.
He added: "There would be no point in employing somebody to do the deliveries because I would end up losing money, so the only option is to close completely.
"It will kill me knowing my brother is going to work and I am not but there is not a lot I can do about it.
"I just want to let my customers know that I will definitely be re-opening for business before Christmas."
Customer Graham Phillips, of Chell, who visits the stall up to three times a week, said: "It is unbelievable that a petty tiff can end up like this. It is the only fruit and veg shop in the market and the closure will affect hundreds of customers."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council today confirmed that Mr Pickstone's licence has been suspended.
Councillor Paul Shotton, cabinet member for finance, procurement and commissioning, said: "The council will not tolerate abusive or aggressive behaviour to staff.
"The licences that traders sign to operate at council markets include clear guidelines that unseemly conduct is not acceptable and can lead to a suspension of the licence.
"In this instance, Mr Pickstone's licence has been suspended for two weeks."
Mr Shotton added: "This decision was not taken lightly. The council wants to see traders thrive at its markets and only takes such action where issues have not been resolved by other means.
"In this instance, officers met with Mr Pickstone to look to resolve the issue first.
"It is important to note that the suspension only applies to Mr Pickstone, not his business – the business can continue to operate."