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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Why Europe threatens Britain’s recovery (Daily Telegraph)

Our neighbours need to grow if we are to achieve our goal of a balanced economy, writes Jeremy Warner. 

2. No poll jitters: Axelrod can help Labour hit back, and hard (Guardian)

Ed Miliband may envy David Cameron's ratings, but his policies will be popular with voters, says Polly Toynbee. They just don't know it yet.

3. The Tories said coalition wouldn’t work - and they were dead right (Daily Telegraph)

Government by No 10’s select Quad has been an experiment that doesn’t bear repeating, says Fraser Nelson.

4. General election debates: blazing an online trail (Guardian)

It is not acceptable for there to be any doubt about the possibility of leaders' debates in the 2015 election, says a Guardian editorial. The public now expects them.

5. Europeans shake their fists at the world (Financial Times)

The populist trick has been to channel wider discontents into antipathy to the EU, writes Philip Stephens. 

6. Why Singh outranks Thatcher and Reagan (Times)

India’s prime minister is about to be roundly defeated, but the world’s largest democracy owes him a colossal debt, says Philip Collins. 

7. Renewable energy won't rid us of the horrors of coal (Guardian)

The Turkish disaster has brought home the grave costs of mining, writes Simon Jenkins. But hysteria-led policies will only make matters.

8. Border crossing (Daily Telegraph)

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron is right to visit Scotland to persuade it to stay in the Union, says a Telegraph editorial.

9. Now at last Lib Dem ministers can say what they really think of their Tory bosses (Independent)

The end is approaching for the coalition's marriage of convenience, writes Nigel Morris. 

10. China must do as Japan says not as it did (Financial Times)

Beijing, like Tokyo in the 1980s, is trying to transform a state-controlled financial system, writes Gillian Tett. 

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.