Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Protests around the world are keeping the spirit of Occupy alive (Guardian)

The unrest of 2011 is likely to last for decades, writes John Harris. From Istanbul to Rio, it's not about austerity, but the nature of the state.

2. Build homes. Give hope to the next generation (Times)

Housing shortages lead to many of our worst social problems, writes Tim Montgomerie. MPs should support Nick Boles, not the Nimbys.

3. The best cut of all? Shut the Treasury (Financial Times)

It is not easy to find any other body that has made so many mistakes, writes Philip Stephens.

4. When anti-gay bigotry is just another lock on the closet (Independent)

Is it surprising that those obsessed with gay sex may have a fondness for men, asks Owen Jones.

5. I supported Brazil's World Cup bid, but even I am against it now (Guardian)

This mega event can only deepen Brazil's problems, says Romario. The only beneficiary will be Fifa.

6. First-time voters key to election (Sun)

These are the New Libertarians, independent-minded and tolerant of social change but keen to see taxpayers keeping more of their own money, writes Trevor Kavanagh. 

7. Foreign aid is an investment in our future (Daily Telegraph)

Jobs and the free market are at the heart of a revolution in the way Britain offers help, argues Andrew Mitchell. 

8. Republicans are out of step with the times (Financial Times)

The gulf between the party base and the middle ground cripples its ability to field appealing candidates, writes Philip Stephens.

9. Triple the population – we’ll all be better off (Times)

Our planet is far from crowded, says Mark Littlewood. Doom-laden predictions about our future are wildly out.

10. It can't be done, George Osborne (Daily Telegraph)

Until the Chancellor tackles the relentless growth of 'social protection’, he will not make a dent in our deficit, says Jeff Randall.

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.