Chip shop owner calls police on school staff for stopping pupils buying his food

Vincent Wood
Bobby Sehdev of nearby newsagent Monikas remonstrates with one of the teachers: Bristol Live/SWNS

A chip shop owner has said he was left with no choice but to call the police after school staff barricaded the entrance to his business to stop their pupils from entering while dishing out detentions.

Officials at Cotham School in Bristol had long implemented a policy of moving students on along the surrounding narrow streets – and has argued they were simply utilising policy brought in by Michael Gove to help teachers regulate their pupils outside the school gates.

But local businesses said they were forced to consider shutting shop after the learning institution introduced a policy of stopping children entering nearby newsagents and a chip shop on their way home.

The policy, which applied between 2.45 and 3.15pm as children left the academy, led to a stand-off between the owner of Chilli Bellies and school staff as they reportedly attempted to turf students out of the takeaway.

“They came in the shop and started telling off the children who were in there, handing out detentions, demanding that they leave,” owner Neil D’Souza said.

“I’d taken the children’s money, their food was almost ready. I said I’d had enough and asked this teacher to leave, to get out of my business, get off my property.

“He argued with me, and then went and stood right on the doorstep. He was physically blocking the entrance.

“They were intimidating the students, and this was intimidating to my normal customers too. He refused to move, that’s why I called the police.”

Local resident Kate Grant, who had tried to enter the shop, said: “You’ve got two senior teachers in high-vis jackets standing outside a shop like bouncers.

“This is after school, with the kids on their way home. Young people have a hard enough time as it is. This is ridiculous.”

Mr D’Souza was forced to keep his shop open seven days a week due to the lost business, and claims he met with the school’s head teacher – only for her to give him “a lecture about how what I was serving people was unhealthy food”.

Shop operators have also complained over the ban on their business, with Jabir Shar, the owner of a nearby newsagents Tuck News, saying he was having to consider closing down his business over the policy.

He said: “They are misleading the children and parents. I have had parents come in and ask why their children are not allowed in here, they have been told we don’t want them in.

“We are a business and would like to carry on serving them. This has been going on for more than 20 days and I’m losing hundreds of pounds a day.

“If this continues I’m not sure I’ll be able to remain open. They have a teacher standing outside which makes our other customers suspicious about what’s going on.”

The school, which denies teachers entered the premises, has since backtracked on the policy after claiming there was a “mixed response” to the initiative.

A statement from the school said: “Having taken all of the views received into consideration we will still continue to support our students in remaining safe as they leave school via Cotham Road and move forward on their onward journey home.

“However, we have decided that we will no longer provide a staff presence in the vicinity of the shops”.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police confirmed they were called to reports of antisocial behaviour.

They said: “Police were called just after 3.10pm on Thursday, 28 November, by the owner of a takeaway reporting antisocial behaviour at the entrance to his premises in Cotham Road South, which he said was preventing customers from entering.

“Officers attended and spoke to the parties involved. No offences were identified or disclosed.”

Additional reporting by SWNS

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