Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Stay in the EU. It’s clearly in our interests (Times)

Europe isn’t perfect but we would be wrong to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, argues Alistair Darling.

2. We doctors worry about NHS failings, too (Daily Telegraph)

Hospital A&Es are at breaking point, and it’s no use blaming the patients, says Sarah Wollaston.

3. The time for a British decision is now (Financial Times)

It is doubtful London could remain the continent’s financial capital if the UK quit the EU, writes Martin Wolf.

4. Labour must stand firm: no to a referendum on Europe (Guardian)

Out-of-office Tories have Cameron in a corner, writes Polly Toynbee. But Miliband should ignore calls to hold a futile and distracting in-out vote.

5. Our universities should take a lesson from the land of the free (Daily Telegraph)

Britain and the US have chosen two very different models for funding universities – and it’s clear which is winning, says Fraser Nelson.

6. Despite the cynics, don’t give up on politics (Times)

Alan Johnson’s memoir of childhood poverty is a reminder that our leaders are not all from an out-of-touch elite, says Philip Collins.

7. The new Archbishop should stop this gesture politics (Independent)

Justin Welby should seize the opportunity to totally reshape the role of bishops in the House of Lords, says Frank Field. 

8. Probation cannot be solved by a minister in a hurry (Guardian)

Reforming probation is too important to be jeopardised by a rush to results for partisan political purposes, says a Guardian editorial.

9. George Osborne's hair of the dog that bit us (Daily Telegraph)

The Chancellor wants a mini-boom to restore growth, but that’s what got us into this mess, writes Jeremy Warner. 

10. Alex Ferguson's hairdryer treatment won't cut it in politics (Guardian)

The Manchester United boss has been wildly lauded for his success on the pitch, writes Simon Jenkins. Those who govern us don't have it so easy.

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.