A 5-year-old girl from East London was fined £150 ($200) for selling lemonade near the Lovebox Music Festival July 15.
Andre Spicer said that his daughter burst into tears when officers shut down her homemade lemonade stand and imposed a hefty fine for operating a market stall without a street trading license, according to The Guardian.
Spicer reported that his daughter, who remains unnamed as she is a minor, came up with the idea to set up a lemonade stand in East London. She hoped to attract passersby on their way to Lovebox Festival, an international music festival in Victoria Park.
"She wanted to sell toys or food or clothes but she eventually decided on lemonade," said Spicer. "It was a way to entertain her on a summer’s day. We set up the stand and people started buying the lemonade. They were on the way to a concert and she brought a smile to their faces."
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After about half an hour of operating the stand, four officers approached to shut it down. Spicer initially thought that they would simply tell them to pack up and go home, but was shocked when they turned on a camera and began reading from a script, saying that the 5-year-old was operating a stand without a street trading license and would have to pay a fine.
Spicer, a professor at the Cass Business School at City University London, decided to write an article recounting the incident for The Telegraph.
"My daughter burst into tears, repeating again and again 'have I done a bad thing?'" he wrote. "After five minutes, the officers' jobs were done and they went on their way. We packed up and made the short walk home. My daughter sobbed all the way."
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Reflecting upon the situation, he wrote that situations like these stifle opportunities for children to learn and have fun.
"Holding the notice of the fine in my hand, I’m reminded just how restrictive we have become with our children," he wrote. "When I was growing up, my brother and I were able to wonder miles from home without adult supervision. We were encouraged to sell things to raise money for clubs we were part of. By selling biscuits, we learned about math, communication and basic business skills. But more importantly, we gained a degree of confidence. I can’t ever recall a council officer popping up and fining us."
Shortly after his article was published, a council spokesperson responded apologizing and assuring Spicer that the fine would be dropped.
"We are very sorry that this has happened. We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen," the spokesperson wrote, The Guardian reported.
"The fine will be canceled immediately and we have contacted Prof Spicer and his daughter to apologize."