Greenwich Council has declined to respond to local residents who are angry about its decision to fine a popular east Greenwich shop for “obstructing the highway” with superhero figurines and animal sculptures.
The owner of The Mirror Shop, on Woolwich Road in east Greenwich, was told to pay £872 in fines and legal costs, the council announced on Monday in a press statement. It said that Clive Berry had refused to comply with requests to move his merchandise, which have turned the shop into a local landmark.
A photo supplied by the council showed model dogs on the central reservation, with figures attached to wheelie bins that were tied to railings. The press release did not name the court or say when the conviction took place. It quoted Jackie Smith, the cabinet member for community safety, as saying: “The council has a legal duty to maintain the safety and usability of highways in the borough. By obstructing the pavement and chaining his merchandise to the railings, Mr Clive Berry was endangering pedestrians and moving traffic.
“Though we tried to engage with Mr Berry to get him to stop blocking the highway with his goods, he refused. I hope this prosecution serves as a reminder that no one is above the law in Royal Greenwich [sic] and the council will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the rules.”
However, the statement led to an angry response from local residents on social media, who said that Clive Berry’s displays were brightening up a dirty, dangerous and dilapidated area. The shop is next to the notorious Angerstein roundabout, where two cyclists have died in the past 11 years, with plans to improve the junction only just emerging. Over 200 comments were posted in support of the shop on both Twitter and Facebook.
One Twitter user, Stacey Ayeh, wrote: “This is a unnecessary waste of time. That shop should be promoted by the council for bringing joy to the otherwise nondescript road. Also rather misleading to claim they ‘obstruct the highway’.”
Mark Johnson-Brown, the manager of the nearby Mycenae House community centre, wrote: “This leaves me feeling rather deflated. Always liked its quirkiness and one of the things I valued about living locally. think Ill go and buy a mirror from them.”
A Facebook user, Jennifer McCullough wrote: “My goodness. What complete rot. Nothing has ever been blocked. I’m so pleased that Greenwich Council feels so proud of itself that it resorts to puffing its chest so publicly. I’m sure there’s a homeless person or two you can pick on next. Another easy victim. Grow up and start looking for people who commit genuine crimes.”
853 asked Greenwich Council if it had a response to residents’ complaints. The council was also asked how many complaints had been received about the shop’s displays. A spokesperson said on Thursday: “The council has no further comment regarding the prosecution of the Mirror Shop. Please refer to the press release.”
Separately, 853 also asked about long-promised improvements to the roundabout ahead of construction of a cycleway between Greenwich and Woolwich, which could see the roundabout removed altogether. Plans to apply for funds from Transport for London for a “local safety scheme” were approved by the council’s ruling cabinet in 2018. Improvements have also been promised as part of the planning agreement which brought Ikea to the neighbourhood.
A spokesperson for the council said: “We are working with Transport for London to deliver an interim scheme to improve cyclist safety at the Angerstein roundabout by the spring.
“A full redesign of the roundabout will then be undertaken by TfL as part of the Greenwich to Woolwich cycleway, TfL is currently consulting residents for their views on the existing Angerstein junction and how it could be improved. Part of the Ikea Section 106 transport contribution will be used to help fund this transformational redesign.
“We encourage all residents to take part in the consultation as their feedback is vital. The consultation can be found on the TfL website.”
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